Suspect's mom: Gunfire was sound of son ripped from her arms

LAMONT, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - The mother of a 19-year-old man shot and killed by Kern County Sheriff's deputies said she tried to intervene in the fatal confrontation. Sheriff's officials said Monday that nine of their officers fired back at Andres Aguilar, and three were hit by bullet fragments.

The suspect was found dead in a trailer last Thursday morning after a search that went on all night.

Rosa Aguilar tearfully told Eyewitness News she heard the barrage of bullets, not far from their home. Speaking in Spanish, the mother said she had offered to talk her son out and avoid a confrontation with officers.

The mother said when she heard the gunfire, she thought it was the sound of her son being ripped out of her arms.

On Monday, the sheriff's department released a bit more information on the incident that started last Wednesday night and ended at the trailer behind a house on Bonita Road. "During a search of the trailer occupied by Aguilar, a .30 caliber revolver was located in Aguilar's possession," the update reads.

The mother said Aguilar had a gun for protection against gang members. She described it only as a revolver with a short, fat barrel.

Officers say a deputy had tried to pull Aguilar over for a license plate violation, but he got out, shot one round at the officer and then ran off. The deputy was not hit by that shot and did not return fire, according to the sheriff's department.

More officers were called out, and they set up a perimeter. A couple hours later, Aguilar was spotted behind a tire shop off Main Street. At that location, deputies say Aguilar shot once at the officers, and one returned fire. The suspect took off running again.

It was early Thursday morning when SWAT officers found Aguilar in a small trailer behind the house on Bonita Road. Officers say Aguilar started shooting at them, and the SWAT team returned fire. "Shortly thereafter deputies were able to enter the trailer and confirmed the suspect had been struck numerous times by gunfire," a sheriff's report says.

There's no information yet on how many times Aguilar was shot, or how many times he or the officers fired weapons. Monday's sheriff's statement says the investigation is continuing, and notes officers are processing several crime scenes and a lot of evidence.

The latest statement says of the three deputies hit by bullet fragments, one ended up with minor injuries and he got first aid at the scene.

The officers who fired weapons are Sgt. Dustin Downey, Senior Deputy Raul Murillo, Senior Deputy Michael Booker, Deputy Conrado Curiel, Deputy Patrick McNeal, Deputy Christian Melero, Deputy Derrick Penney, Deputy Gabriel Romo, and Deputy Darren Wonderly. These officers have been with the Kern County Sheriff's Department for between four to 15 years.

All the officers are on routine paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the shooting incident and review.

Rosa Aguilar says her son was a nice boy, and respectful. He'd lived in the Lamont area for three to four years, and he'd been working in the fields. She said in Mexico, Andres had planned to join the military, and was about a year off from doing that.

The family has put donation jars in some Lamont-area businesses, hoping for help with the cost of sending Andres' body to Mexico for burial.