12/21/2014

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Victims named in triple homicide

Victims named in triple homicide

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Three people are dead and one person is hospitalized after a shooting in east Bakersfield late Wednesday night.

Kern County Sheriff's officials say just after 11 p.m. two men in ski masks entered an apartment in the 1700 block of Quincy Street, near Kern Medical Center, and opened fire, killing three men.

A fourth man was reported to be in critical but stable condition.

The Kern County coroner's office identified the victims as 29-year-old Zephaniah Lee Matthews, 23-year-old Junior Alfonzo Contreras and 22-year-old Daniel Turrel Watkins.  

"Just after I went upstairs, there was several loud pops," neighbor Lisa Miller told Eyewitness News on Thursday. "We thought it was fireworks."

But, she rushed over to the apartment across the walkway, and saw the door open.

"People were lying on the floor," she said. "My daughter made sure the kids were OK, she took them in the house."

Miller said she and other neighbors tried to give CPR to the victims.

The apartment was occupied by several adults and children. None of the children were wounded, according to the sheriff's office. 

"It's not often that we investigate a triple murder," Kern County Sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt said. "It's rare, and so we're concerned."

Miller believes her neighbor is one of the men killed, and said he's a good man who just tried to take care of his children. She said the kids are 3 and 9 years old.

Miller's daughter also heard the gunfire, and she thinks there were seven to 10 shots. Pruitt said investigators don't know how many shots were fired or how many weapons were used.

Thursday morning, a man came to the apartment where the shooting happened, and said he was a cousin of the resident. The cousin said he was standing right next to him when the shooting happened,

The cousin said he wasn't hurt, and also said his back was to the door and he didn't see the shooters.

"This was a brazen shooting," Pruitt said. "These suspects took the time to disguise themselves, force entry into the apartment and shoot four people. We consider these to be dangerous people."

Pruitt said the suspects ran off, and said the priority is identifying and finding them.

"At this point, we don't know what the motive is for the shooting," Pruitt added. "We haven't been able to identify what, if any, relationship there is between these suspects and these four victims. Or a relationship between these suspects and this apartment."

Neighbors told Eyewitness News they never saw the suspects. They think the men waited until there was no one in the walkway between the buildings, and then made their move.

Lisa Miller said she didn't know the other men visiting her neighbor Wednesday night, saying she's heart -broken at what happened to the man she has lived across from.

"He wasn't a troublesome kind of guy," Miller said. "He was a good guy, and we're going to miss him."

The names of the men who were shot had not been officially released as of Thursday night.

Anyone with information helpful to the investigation is asked to call the sheriff's office at (661) 861-3110 or Secret Witness at 322-4040.

Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411). Type "KCSO" prior to the message.

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