BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The hunt is on for a man suspected in the shooting deaths of two brothers. The victims were killed as they did their job as bail bondsmen.
One brother was found dead on the front lawn; the other was found dead inside the home. Both men were shot while serving a bond warrant in a southwest Bakersfield neighborhood.
Brandon Nicolas Sims, 26, and Zachary Daniel Sims, 23, worked for their father's company, according to an employee at Bail Bond Leon. She told Eyewitness News their father is also connected to Bad Dog Bail Bonds.
She said the brothers were on duty when they were shot Thursday evening on Kamloops Drive, near Gosford Road and Ming Avenue. They were looking for a suspect wanted on drug charges who had skipped bail, 24-year-old Zachary Adam Perrick.
Perrick was apparently in the house, along with 26-year-old Stephen Michael Stewart. Bakersfield Police identify Stewart as the alleged murderer. Investigators haven't detailed how the shooting transpired.
Police say they got reports from neighbors who heard a number of gunshots. Witnesses told officers two men were seen running from the house, and the victims were found dead.
Keith Church, from American Liberty Bail Bonds, said he had met the Sims brothers. "I worked with them one time on a repossession," he said. Church is "bail recovery agent," and he does what the brothers were trying to do Thursday night.
"It's a skip," Church explained. "Someone is running from us." He doesn't have details on the situation on Kamloops, but outlined what happens when a bail bondsman has to go after someone who skips.
"There's a warrant sent out, we get a notification they didn't show up in court, and we go get them," Church said. He said recovery agents start looking for the suspect.
"Stake-outs, checking houses, checking where they hang out, calling family members," Church said. "Whatever it takes, really, within the law."
Church said agents usually work in pairs when they go after the skip, and head to some place like a house. As agents, hey have weapons and identification.
"We have a patch on our back, a badge, some other form of identification -- maybe on a shoulder, a chest," he said. And, the agents have weapons. "Guns, handcuffs," Church added.
On Kamloops, one of the suspects also had a gun.
Police say Stewart has been identified as responsible for the murders. He's described as 6'2", 190 pounds with short brown hair and brown eyes.
Officers say Stewart drove away after the shooting, but ditched his car a few blocks away. As of Friday night, he was still on the loose, according to police. He's considered to be armed and dangerous.
Police say Perrick lives at the home on Kamloops, he returned early Friday morning and was arrested on a warrant charging him with drug possession.
Neighbors were also shaken by the two murders.
"Very, very hard to believe, hard to believe, that (violence) could affect us and be in our neighborhood, resident Mike Cory told Eyewitness news on Thursday as officers worked the crime scene.
Other bail bond company staff in the Bakersfield area said they are saddened by the deaths of the two brothers.
"We have crossed paths here in the business," Jaime Gonzalez said at Absolute Bail Bonds. He agreed the business can be very dangerous. "We just have to be very, very careful in everything we're doing."
Church agreed. "It's very dangerous, you never know what's going to happen, actually," he said. As a longtime recovery agent, he says reactions are unpredictable.
"People have different reasons for not wanting to go back to jail, or go to jail," Church said. "And you're dealing with people on drugs, nine times out of ten,"
He was also saddened for the Sims family. The employee at Bail Bond Leon said Brandon Sims had worked with his father's company for more than four years, and she said Zachary Sims had recently returned from serving in the Navy.
Church said the deaths are a tragedy. "They were really nice," he said. "Really nice, easy-going, and pretty professional. And so, they did their job."
Police didn't say how Stewart and Perrick know each other.
Anyone who sees Stewart is asked to call police at (661) 327-7111.