Coroner: BNSF railway worker was shot to death
TEHACHAPI, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The hunt is on for a suspect in the murder of a railroad worker in Tehachapi.
The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe employee was shot to death in a maintenance shop, and Kern County Sheriff's detectives are investigating with assistance from railroad police.
"There's always the possibility that he may have interrupted a burglary or a theft in progress at the shop or on the property," sheriff's spokesman Ray Pruitt told Eyewitness News on Thursday. "That's one of the scenarios we're looking at."
The BNSF shop is in an industrial complex in the 1500 block of Goodrick Drive. Robert Limon, 38, was found there Sunday night at about 6:45. Pruitt wasn't sure who reported finding the body.
The coroner's office reports Limon died from multiple gunshots, the sheriff's department said he was injured in the upper body.
Detectives got evidence at the scene, but Pruitt won't say much about it.
"There's certainly information that we were able to work with," he said. "But at this time we haven't identified a motive or a suspect."
BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said Limon was liked and respected.
"Everyone is shocked," Kent said.
She said Limon worked for the railroad for 13 years. He was based in Barstow but was working in Tehachapi last weekend.
Co-workers last saw Limon at about 5 p.m., when he left work in the field to return to the shop.
Sheriff detectives have released surveillance video from the shop's complex showing a man walking into the parking lot. He appears to head to the area of the BNSF shop. Pruitt said the video is from about 6 Sunday night.
"Hopefully somebody in the community will recognize the person of interest and we can talk to that person," Pruitt said. "Or, somebody will hear something, or has some information that points us in the right direction."
BNSF is offering a $100,000 reward for information in the case. Kent said railroad workers have passed out fliers with that information.
On Thursday, Eyewitness News saw a car marked "BNSF Police" leaving the parking lot at the shop complex.
That complex houses a number of vintage airplane restoration shops. On Thursday, one man in a shop said he feels more nervous now working alone, especially on a weekend. Another man said he thinks the crime was so cold-blooded, it was not random.
The BNSF spokeswoman said the company is pleading with the public to come forward with any information.
"It's really devastated our community," Kent said. She said the company's doing everything they can to get justice for Limon, and they hope the public will help.
Anyone with information is urged to call the Kern County Sheriff's Department at (661) 861-3110 or to call Secret Witness at (661) 322-4040.
"There's somebody out there in the community that committed this crime, and we want to identify that person as soon as we can and get that person into custody," Pruitt said. "This is obviously a very high priority case, and it's a case that we want to solve."
The below surveillance video shows a person of interest walking in the Summit Industrial Park around the time of the homicide.