‘My heart is crushed’: Estranged wife of California shooting suspect says family has been threatened
The estranged wife of a man suspected of killing four people during a shooting rampage in Orange, California, last week said she is devastated – and fearful because her family has been threatened.
“I don’t have the words to describe the pain and horror that this tragedy has caused me,” Aleyda Mendoza wrote in a lengthy text message to USA TODAY and other news outlets. “My heart is crushed.”
Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, 44, was arrested after a gunbattle with officers at the mobile home sales office where a 9-year-old boy and three others were killed Wednesday. Gaxiola, who was wounded in the exchange, faces murder and attempted murder charges.
Police have not determined a motive. Gaxiola’s arraignment was pushed from Friday to Monday, pending an update on Gaxiola’s condition. He has been unconscious and unable to speak since the shooting.
Mendoza wrote that she can’t accept what happened.
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“I keep closing my eyes and praying to God this is all just a bad dream and I’ll wake up soon,” she wrote.
Mendoza wrote that she had not been in contact with Gaxiola since they were separated about two years ago.
“It hurts me even more knowing my ex-husband was capable of doing such a horrible thing,” she said. “He left behind a sea of pain and grief for so many families who can’t find comfort.”
The massacre is the latest in a string of mass shootings after a lull amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The carnage took place a week after a gunman in Boulder, Colorado, killed 10 people at a supermarket. The week before that, a gunman in the Atlanta area killed eight people at three spas.
In California, police said Gaxiola lived in a motel and arrived at the office, about 30 miles south of Los Angeles, in a rented car. He locked gates to the office suite at Unified Homes before the attack. Responding officers heard gunshots and called a sergeant to bring bolt cutters.
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Security video inside the office showed the gunman wearing a bandana over his face, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and carrying a backpack that authorities said contained pepper spray, handcuffs and ammunition.
The victims were identified as Luis Tovar, 50, who owned Unified Homes; Leticia Solis Guzman, 58; and Jenevieve Raygoza, 28, and her brother, Matthew Farias, 9.
Matthew died in the arms of his mother, Blanca Tamayo, a Unified Homes employee who was shot but survived. Tamayo said Matthew was usually at day care after school, but Wednesday afternoon, he was with her. When police arrived, Tamayo was cradling her dead son.
Tovar and Tamayo were Raygoza’s parents.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think this could happen,” Alec Torres, a partner at Unified Homes who was not in the office during the shooting, told the CBS affiliate in Los Angeles. “We were shocked to find out it was him. There was never any bad blood.”
Mendoza said she has worked at Unified Homes more than a decade and views the owner and employees as family.
“I learned everything I know there and they shaped who I am today,” she wrote. “They always supported me and were there for me and my children whenever I needed them most.”
Mendoza said she has received threatening phone calls since the shooting. “Now my children and I fear for our lives.”
Contributing: Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Orange County, California, shooting: Estranged wife of suspect speaks