When 54-year-old Javier Casarez walked into T&T Trucking early Wednesday evening, he was packing a revolver bigger than Dirty Harry's infamous .44 Magnum.

Within 37 minutes, six people, including Casarez, would be dead.

In a press conference Thursday, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood called the firearm "unique" in the sense that few people carry such a large and powerful handgun.

He also had something to say, both Wednesday night and Thursday morning, about the larger social implications of the deadly rampage.

"Six people lost their lives in a very short amount of time," Youngblood said Wednesday." This is the new normal."

But the sheriff clarified his comments Thursday.

"What I meant by saying this is a new norm is we're seeing this across the nation, people taking handguns and shooting people, and more than one victim at a time."

When asked whether the proliferation of such mass shootings, and his characterization that they are the "new normal" in America suggested more people should carry firearms for their own protection, Youngblood responded in the negative.

"No, this isn't about guns or people carrying guns," he said.

Dinur Blum, a sociologist, criminologist and lecturer at Cal State Los Angeles, studies the social causes of mass shootings with colleague Christian Jaworski.

Like many people, when he first heard that the initial shooting occurred at a place of work, Blum thought the spree might be workplace-related. But as details emerged, he concluded that it was likely connected to a love triangle or the dissolution of a romantic relationship.

Although the term "mass shooting" was used by law enforcement Wednesday, Blum noted that we most often associate that term with shooters who target victims against whom they have no specific anger.

"Think of Aurora, Colo.," Blum said. "The people in that movie theater had nothing to do with the shooter's anger.

"Think of the young kids at Newtown, Conn.," he continued. "The children at Sandy Hook Elementary had nothing to do with the shooter's anger."

Many mass shooters appear to simply be gunning for "soft targets." But the gunman in Bakersfield appeared to have close relationships with some of the victims.

"We often attribute it to craziness. The person had to be mentally ill," Blum said. "But people who are mentally ill are much more likely to be victims."

If the country truly had a bunch of mentally ill people perpetrating scores of mass shootings from coast to coast, "you'd expect to see an increase in funding for mental health," the sociologist said. "But that's not the case."

The lesson here is to "pay very close attention to people going through relationship problems," he said.

Divorce, separation — and if there has been domestic abuse or violence, that is a red flag.

The ready availability of guns in our society "has to be part of the conversation," Blum said.

"The guns themselves don't cause the crimes, but they are the tools of choice for this rage."

But Bakersfield, surely a city where gun ownership is common, has up until now not been the site of mass shootings.

There was the incident last December when a gunman shot out a glass door at Bakersfield Heart Hospital and threatened people inside. But no one at the hospital was hurt except the rifle-wielding suspect who was critically injured after police confronted him and opened fire in the parking lot.

There was a false alarm at another hospital in the past year, and in the past week a threat of a shooter at Ridgeview High, and one (later deemed not credible) at Liberty.

Active shooter training is now the new norm at businesses and schools across Kern County. KHSD students have been trained to respond to an active shooter. And now this.

In a community that values the second amendment and tends to look critically at any limitations on the ownership of firearms, do these events change anyone's views? Probably not.

But if this really is the new normal, how do we as a community respond? And how does law enforcement respond?

Youngblood said the pressure on the department is considerable.

"These cases are without a doubt overwhelming," he said Thursday. "It was all hands on deck last night."

Fortunately, there were additional deputies in the area Wednesday night, Youngblood said. And they offered additional resources to the immediate response by law enforcement.

But some 30 witnesses must be interviewed, crime scenes examined, evidence processed.

Later, Youngblood echoed what many Americans must be thinking.

"It's a different world we live in today," the sheriff said. "The world appears to have turned upside down."

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(6) comments

Fram Smith

REMUDA, our payed Russian Troll! How is the weather in Saint Petersburg ? Your English still needs a lot of work. I hope your studies go well. but, you should go to another paper because we all know who you are. Also, someone in the next week will stop by to say hello. We know where you sleep. HAVE A GREAT DAY, COMRADE RUMUDA!

Fram Smith

So, no one saw this coming? Not a single person involved saw this guy and what he was going through, and said, " Can I have your guns until you and your ex cool down. I wouldn't want you to do something that would hurt you or others." So no one-no one , saw this coming? Maybe, but I have doubts.And no one is willing to say that this was premeditated murder.Was he in legal possesion of the handgun? The ex-wife did not see it coming, it would seem. Why would she drive with him to T and T trucking, to get killed, along with one of three of her lovers? I am missing something here. In regard to gun owenership, there was no legal reason to prevent Javier Casarez from owning a handgun- at least I have seen no info that said otherwise.Guns don't kill people, people do. I get it. However, guns make killing people as difficult as turning off a light switch- as this event shows to even those folks who drag thier knuckles when they walk.

Concerned Citizen of Bakersfield

The good news is that I learned about this S&W 500...I want one! What a terrific weapon!

CTurk3

Sheriff Youngblood is wrong, states that have a higher instance of law abiding citizens carrying concealed weapons have a much lower violent crime and murder rate. This type of crime is only the "new normal" in states like California with strict and oppressive gun laws that only punish the law abiding citizens and not the criminals.

Fram Smith

So, he is in the process of leaving his wife for being unfaithful, and instead decides to kill her and kill her 3 different lovers, and the daughter of one of lovers stands in the way and gets killed too. He then kills himself.Did I got this wrong? PLEASE NOTE- THIS IS PURE SPECULATION ON MY PART. I DO NOT HAVE A SHREAD OF PROOF. But, sure seems to fit. To our Russian Troll, REMUDA, ES and D.

REMUDA

So Fram*a*spam finally awakes in the middle of his/her dreamscape? Seems one story (of 'the many') suggested the perp filed for the divorce, court denied emails, was a 'documented alien', and perhaps had 'a prior' . . . ? Cannardly wait for the next Fram-o'sham installment . . . to sell subscriptions . . . or "shread (sic)" the 'troof'-proof . . . ?

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