A Northern California man said he tried to help a woman with her broken-down car Tuesday, then realized it was a trap and ended up fatally shooting two men, according to authorities.
The woman parked in front of 23-year-old Austreberto Valencia’s home in the Corning area of Tehama County and went up to his door in the evening, telling him her car wasn’t working, a report from the sheriff’s office said.
“My son went out to help a woman at the car,” said Valencia’s father, 48-year-old Enrique Santamaria Zepeda, according to the Corning Observer. “They did that to distract us from the men who were coming to rob our home.”
When Valencia got to the car, at least two men came up to him — one armed with a gun — and made him go back to his home, where deputies believe the group intended “to steal a quantity of marijuana stored in the residence,” the sheriff’s office said.
“One of them put a handgun into my side and told me to relax and go into the house, and another did the same to my wife, but she screamed,” Zepeda said, according to the Observer. “The girl stayed with the car and two others forced my son back to the carport at gunpoint.”
But at that point, Zepeda said the family managed to get away from the robbers, run inside and lock the door, the Observer reports.
Valencia then grabbed a gun of his own — and used his semi-automatic pistol to fire at two of the attempted robbers, the sheriff’s office said.
Both robbers were pronounced dead when sheriff’s deputies, Corning police and highway patrol officers got to the scene on the 3000 block of Highway 99 West just after 6 p.m. The sheriff’s report said “early reports indicated there were multiple shots fired.”
Zepeda said authorities came after his wife called 911, the Observer reports.
The robbers’ bodies were lying in the carport area of the home, but neither of their identities are known, the sheriff’s office said. Autopsies will be performed. Deputies said it appears gunshot wounds to the head killed the men.
Zepeda told the Observer that “he didn’t know who any of the suspected robbers were, including the two men killed in his carport.”’
The other three suspects got away — the woman and a man speeding away in a Dodge Charger, and a second man on foot, deputies said. Authorities said detectives “spent much of the night pouring over the scene” and talking to witnesses, and are now trying to confirm Valencia’s story of what happened.
The three family members at the home were the intended victims of the scheme, but none of them were injured, according to the sheriff’s office. No one has been arrested. Deputies said they seized a pistol and semi-automatic rifle at the scene.
The getaway car was described as a four-door 2006 white Dodge Charger, which was lowered and may have had tinted windows. There was no front license plate, but the holder was damaged or cracked, the sheriff’s report said.
Anyone with relevant information in this case is asked to call the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 529-7920.
The sheriff’s office said in an email to McClatchy that there were no additional updates as of Thursday afternoon, and that the investigation is ongoing.