10 Kern County homicides in May include year’s youngest victim

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KERN COUNTY, California (KGET) — 10 people in Kern County died in homicides last month, a fewer death toll than last year, but no less tragic – the month also claimed Bakersfield’s youngest victim of homicide this year, a 12-year-old girl shot while sitting outside her home.

On May 1, 36-year-old Daniel Rios was shot near the Fastrip in the area of S Union and Pacheco. He was taken to a hospital for treatment but did not survive. The suspect, 20-year-old Daniel Trejo-Calistro, has pleaded not guilty to voluntary manslaughter and other charges.

Two people were also arrested for a shooting in Wasco that left 24-year-old Jose Aleman dead on May 4. 22-year-old Aaron Garcia and 31-year-old Angel Soto face murder and accessory charges, respectively.

Kern County went 9 days without a homicide until May 13 – with 3 people killed in 3 separate incidents. It began that morning in Northeast Bakersfield, when 24-year-old Tyler William Russell was shot between homes on Acacia Avenue. No arrests have been made in his case.

At 12:14 P.M., KCSO deputies were sent to the 1600 block of Curran Drive in Lake Isabella, where 30-year-old Timothy Aulston was shot to death. Aulston’s family publicly accused 37-year-old Juan Angel Acevedo, saying they had received multiple tips from locals about what happened. Investigators do not always announce suspects in order to protect their investigations. Acevedo was arrested days later and has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Then, at around 1 P.M. the same day, police in Shafter responded to their first homicide in at least 5 years. 64-year-old Tony Sanchez was shot while driving on Fresno Avenue, crashing into an orchard between Beech and Cherry Avenues. No arrests have been announced in this case.

That weekend, KCSO responded to another shooting on Weedpatch Highway. The victim, whose name hasn’t officially been released, was fatally wounded after some sort of altercation Saturday, May 15. No arrests have been announced.

Tragedy rocked the city of Ridgecrest the morning of May 18, when the body of 20-year-old Kathryn “Katie” Pham was discovered on Skylark Avenue. 20-year-old Daniel Gunnarsson, an acquaintance and former classmate, was arrested and charged with her murder. The news of Pham’s death spread fast in Ridgecrest, with many friends and former classmates describe her as a sweet and cheerful young woman. The community raised thousands of dollars for her family, and hundreds flocked to Petroglyph Park to remember her in a vigil the following week.

The same day, a shooting at the Vagabond Inn on Colony Street killed 23-year-old David Michael Allison. According to BPD, Allison’s suspected killer then carjacked a separate person to escape. On May 19, after a six-hour long standoff in the Rexland Acres area, 24-year-old Billy Gleghorn was arrested on suspicion of murder, along with two others accused of helping him hide from police. But the District Attorney’s Office declined to file murder charges against him, saying the case had “substantial issues of self-defense.” He’s still charged for the carjacking and other alleged crimes.

On May 25, 12-year-old Ahmaya Alexander was sitting outside a home on L and 11th Streets when she was shot. She was taken to a hospital for treatment and died. During a vigil her family and community advocates raised concerns about gang violence, and violence in black communities in general, saying children like Ahmaya were being caught in the crossfire. No suspects have been arrested in her case.

Finally, on May 31. before Memorial Day celebrations began in earnest, Bakersfield Police were called to a grim discovery on Parkwood Court; Maria and Rafael Rodriguez, both 51, were found shot to death. BPD said the case is a suspected murder-suicide, though an early coroner’s release did not have specific information on whose death was a homicide. There are still pending examinations for both.

Anyone with information on these cases can call the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111; Kern County Sheriff’s Office at (661) 861-3110; Shafter Police Department at (661) 746-8500; or the anonymous Kern Secret Witness tip line, at (661) 322-4040.

To compare, there were 16 homicides in May last year, although overall Kern’s current homicide count nearly matches last year’s, with 51 deaths compared to 50 in 2020.

There’s also still a pending death investigation after a woman’s body was found in Onyx, which is currently not listed on the Homicide Tracker until more details are released.

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