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KCSO releases footage from Wasco standoff that killed Campas, 4 others; shooting ruled within departmental policy

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office said the use of force in the July 25 Wasco mass shooting, in which 41-year-old Jose Manuel Ramirez Jr. was shot and killed by deputies, was within departmental policy, according to a video released Thursday.

Ramirez had already killed his wife and two sons before deputies arrived, which deputies did not yet know, according to the 14-minute video. Ramirez later fatally shot Deputy Phillip Campas, sheriff's officials have said.

The KCSO convened an Incident Review Board to examine the use of force in this incident Tuesday, which made the determination. The KCSO Homicide Unit also conducted an investigation and submitted its findings to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office for criminal review, according to KCSO’s video.

Dispatched deputies arrived at the 1700 block of 1st Street based on many reports indicating a man was shooting individuals in a house around 1 p.m.

“I need somebody really quick, there’s somebody with a gun in the house,” a woman's voice said on a 911 call on July 25. “The dad — he has a gun and he is shooting.” Loud noises and a scream are heard in the call’s background, according to the video.

Ramirez had already killed his wife, Viviana Ruiz Ramirez, and two sons, 24-year-old Jose Manuel Ramirez III and 17-year-old Angel Ramirez, before the deputies arrived at the residence. Two family members perished inside the house and one man died in the side yard, according to the video. Deputies were not aware of these deaths when they arrived, according to the video.

When deputies arrived, Ramirez began firing at them.

One shooting was captured on a home surveillance video camera. Angel runs to exit the yard, when Ramirez raises a gun at his son's head, around 1 p.m., according to the video. The video cuts away at that point, noting that what would follow is graphic.

Deputy Charles Shinn’s body-worn camera shows him running and ducking for cover after gunshots were fired. No officers were injured at this time. The SWAT team and California Highway Patrol were also called to the scene, according to the KCSO.

Ramirez called the 911 dispatch center around 2:16 p.m. to request an ambulance. He said his son got shot and was on the floor. Ramirez also claimed he was unaware who shot his son, according to the video.

When the dispatcher asked Ramirez if he was on drugs, he said no, according to the video.

SWAT team members attempted to draw out the suspect in both English and Spanish. Ramirez did not respond, despite SWAT members saying they sought to help him and that an ambulance awaited him, according to the video.

A hostage rescue team formed after the SWAT team decided victims inside needed medical assistance from the 911 calls placed by Ramirez and other factors, said Danielle Kernkamp, the public information officer for the KCSO. They began to approach the residence around 2:53 p.m. Ramirez fired gunshots at the deputies.

Two SWAT team members were hit by gunshots and two other SWAT operators were injured by shrapnel, according to KCSO’s video. Campas and Senior Deputy Dizander Guerrero were taken to a hospital. Only after Campas was shot did deputies return fire, Kernkamp said. 

Campas later died from his wounds. Guerrero was treated and later released.

All law enforcement remained on the scene and tried to communicate with Ramirez, but their efforts remained unsuccessful, the video states. The suspect continued to fire at deputies.

Ramirez began climbing onto the roof, holding an AK-47 style rifle and handgun, around 6:28 p.m. He was shot by deputies. Medical aid was rendered, but Ramirez died from his wounds at the scene.

There were 15 deputies involved in the shootings, according to the KCSO. They include Lt. David Hubbard, Sgt. Michael Dorkin, Sgt. Christian Melero, Sgt. Patrick McIrvin, Guerrero, Senior Deputy Jesse Hernandez, Senior Deputy Eric Vollmer, Senior Deputy Brandon Geherty, Senior Deputy Ryan Brock, Deputy Christopher Gonzalez, Deputy Diego Gonzalez, Deputy Justin Newton and Deputy Jason Ackerman.

The names of the other two deputies were not released “due to the nature of their assignment,” according to the video.

Kernkamp declined to release information about details regarding the shooting between officers and Ramirez on the roof. 

KCSO asks that anyone with additional information call KCSO at 861-3110 or Secret Witness at 322-4040.

You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @idesai98 on Twitter.