Following a weekend party where six individuals were shot and several hundred people were in attendance, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood didn’t mince words.
The fact the incident occurred during a period when social distancing and public gathering regulations have been stressed, time and again, simply exacerbated his point.
“You can’t regulate stupidity,” Youngblood said Monday morning. “They placed all of the first responders and all of the people in that complex in jeopardy by (potentially) spreading this virus.”
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office responded to the report of a shooting just before 12:30 a.m. Saturday in the 3500 block of Pioneer Drive in east Bakersfield. What they found was a large party with several hundred people in attendance, and recovered an estimated 100 shell casings at the scene, according to Angela Monroe, KCSO public information officer.
As of Monday, no arrests had been made and no persons of interest had been identified. Youngblood said the victims were not cooperative with investigating law enforcement officers, and he was not prepared to say whether the shooting was gang related.
During a Monday press briefing, Kern County Public Health Services Department spokeswoman Michelle Corson described the massive number of people at the party as “disturbing.”
“We do expect that people take personal responsibility and that they stay at home and do not gather,” Corson said. “This is a time for us all to hold each other accountable.”
Kern County Public Health Services issued an order April 2 banning all public and private gatherings. Violators may face penalties that include six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, along with a misdemeanor charge.
Youngblood said as of Monday, KCSO has yet to issue any penalties for violators of the gathering ban. He said deputies responded to the Saturday morning call not because it involved a large party, but because it was a shooting.
“We’re not going to send deputies in to break up a party and place the deputy at risk” of contracting COVID-19, Youngblood said. “People who go to that party are putting themselves in jeopardy.”
Youngblood said that if KCSO were to arrest anyone in violation of the gathering ban, it falls under the county’s current $0 bail order. The ruling went into effect Monday and allows low-level misdemeanor and felony offenders to avoid jail time during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to reduce any spread of the virus in jails.
KCSO has responded to several complaints by the local health department concerning non-essential businesses that continue operating. No businesses have been fined by the sheriff’s office, however, according to Monroe.
As of Monday, the Bakersfield Police Department had issued one citation to a local gym under the health office’s order, according to Corson. She added that public health has responded to more than 840 of the over 1,500 complaints they have received regarding businesses operating unlawfully.
Deputies had limited description information on the four men they described as suspects in the shooting, but said they were driving a white sedan, according to the sheriff’s office. The incident remains under investigation.
Anyone with information is urged to call KCSO at 861-3110 or the Secret Witness Line at 322-4040.