"Reign of Terror" leaves three dead, many more injured in Tulare County


    Police chase ends in crash on Highway 65 (FOX26 News photo)

    UPDATE 12:20 p.m. 12/18/18: The Tulare Co. Sheriff's Office released body cam video of a shootout involving deputies and a man believed to be responsible for several shootings, two murders, and other crimes.


    The Tulare Police Department also released information that Gustavo Garcia has been identified as the man responsible for the theft of ammo from the Tulare Walmart on Sunday.

    A citizen contacted the police after seeing Gacia's photo on the news.

    The caller said he saw Garcia steal the ammunition from the Walmart and reported it to employees.

    Police went back to Walmart and watched surveillance video where they saw Garcia carrying the ammo but did not see him steal it.

    Walmart confirmed three boxes of 9mm ammunition missing, each containing 100 rounds.

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    UPDATED 10:46 PM 12/17/2018 - Authorities believe 36-year-old Gustavo Garcia is responsible for several shootings, two murders, a carjacking, multiple high-speed chases that caused several accidents, and an officer-involved shooting in Tulare County.

    Tulare County Sheriff's Office says Gustavo Garcia was wanted for shooting a farmworker, robbing a gas station, a homicide and other charges. (Photo: Tulare County Sheriff's Office)


    Tulare Co. Sheriff Mike Boudreaux held a news conference Monday afternoon to provide additional information about a crime spree that began Sunday afternoon and ended Monday morning.

    “We have officers that could have been seriously injured, or killed. We also have the citizens of Tulare County that were put in harm’s way. And we’re very thankful that people walked away from a man who really had no regard for human life,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreax.

    At around 1:00 p.m. Sunday, a call came in by a farmworker saying he was shot while picking fruit in the Exeter area.

    The farmer says someone started shooting and hit the ladder he was standing on. He fell off of it and noticed he’d been shot in the chest.

    Three minutes later, a call came in from the AA Gas and Grub on S. Kaweah Ave. in Exeter of an armed robbery.

    Deputies watched surveillance video and say the same silver Honda Pilot was involved in both crimes.

    The driver was identified as Gustavo Garcia, who employees said fired two shots without hitting anyone.

    Exeter Police Chief John Hall said police are looking for a passenger riding with Garcia. His name is not known but he was recorded on surveillance video inside the Gas and Grub.

    Authorities describe that man as a he’s a Hispanic male in his late 20’s or early 30’s, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8, about 150 pounds, with short black hair, and a tattoo on the outside of his right forearm.

    Deputies think shooting at the farmworker was meant to distract law enforcement from the robbery.

    “The information is coming at you very quickly. The information came at us very quickly,” said Sheriff Boudreaux.

    Next, authorities believe Garcia headed to Lindsay.

    Just two hours after the robbery, around 3:20 PM, police say a 38-year-old man was standing in front of his home when someone shot him multiple times.

    He passed away at the hospital Monday.

    Sheriff Boudreaux said Garcia tried to shoot and kill a woman Sunday around 7:30 p.m. at the Motel 6 in the City of Tulare.

    “She advised that she had made eye contact with the suspect, and he had followed her to her parking spot, where he got out of the car, and for unbeknownst reasons began firing,” said Tulare Police Chief Matt Machado

    The woman was hit in the arm and chest area and said she did not know Garcia.

    From there, it seems like Garcia headed straight to W. Oriole Dr. in Visalia.

    Visalia Police say a man was sitting in his car listening to loud music for about an hour. He went inside to shower and one of his family members noticed he was bleeding.

    The man had been shot in the lower back. His family found a bullet hole going from the back of the car to the driver’s side seat.

    Police are analyzing some evidence they collected from that shooting, and they believe Garcia is responsible.

    Shortly before 1:30 Monday morning, investigators believe Garcia fired shots into a Shell gas station in the Pixley area, and there is video to support that belief.

    An hour later, Visalia police got a call of shots fired at the AM/PM on Lovers Ln. in Visalia.

    Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar said 51-year-old Rocky Paul Jones was killed in that shooting.

    It's unknown at this time if Garcia and Jones had any connection or if the shooting was random.

    Then around 3:15 a.m. police learned Garcia fired shots at the home of his ex girlfriend in Visalia, but nobody was injured.

    More shots were fired into a home in the Sultana area, which is also believed to be by Garcia.

    Garcia then led Visalia police on a short chase around 5:00 a.m. but he was blowing through traffic lights and police ended their pursuit.

    Then at 6:40 a.m., deputies spotted Garcia. He tried to get away but lost control, fired shots at the deputies who returned fire.

    Garcia ran into a nearby orchard and carjacked a vehicle from workers.

    Visalia police caught up with the carjacked vehicle but Garcia took off again, leading to a high-speed crash, killing him.

    Chief Boudreaux said Gustavo Garcia had a long history of crimes and was also deported in 2014.

    Those crimes include multiple instances of assault with a deadly weapon; contributing to the delinquency of a minor; carrying a loaded firearm possession of meth; possession of drug paraphernalia; conspiracy; DUI; and others.

    The Chief said there are 6 to 12 other recent cases the various departments are looking into that might be linked to Garcia.



    - - -

    The Tulare County Sheriff's Office says a homicide investigation at a gas station in Visalia led to an officer-involved shooting that ended in a deadly chase.

    Visalia police say officers got a call around 2:30 a.m. on Monday saying there was a shooting at the Arco AM/PM on Lovers Lane.

    When officers got to the gas station, they realized it was a homicide investigation.



    Shortly after officers got to the gas station, officers got a call reporting shots were fired at a separate location at a house in Visalia which police believe was the same man wanted in the AM/PM gas station homicide.

    Police say while officers were searching for the man, they found the man's car and a chase started.

    The chase then ended in the area of Road 140 and 256 in Visalia where officers exchanged gunfire with the man.

    Police say a short time later, the man carjacked a car and drove off.

    Visalia Police say officers and deputies with the Tulare County Sheriff's Office spotted the stolen car and attempted to pull the man over.

    When the man wouldn't pull over, police say a chase began along Highway 65.

    Police say law enforcement agencies tried multiple times to use spike strips to slow the man's car down during the chase.

    While racing along Highway 65, the Tulare County Sheriff's Office says the man, identified as Gustavo Garcia, crashed into five vehicles as he drove in the opposite direction on the highway.

    Deputies say one truck caught fire, one truck was cut into several pieces and at least one person died at the scene.


    The Tulare County Sheriff's Office says Garcia is dead.

    Deputies say Garcia is the same man who shot a farmworker and robbed a convenience store on Sunday afternoon.

    The incidents remain under investigation.





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