Clearlake murder-suicide suspect avoided law enforcement for months, court records show
A Clearlake man suspected of shooting his four kids, killing three of them, before turning the gun on himself early Sunday skirted local law enforcement and court officials multiple times.
The shooting marked a bloody end to what appeared to be a monthslong search for Ricardo Garcia Lopez, 39, who most recently avoided Clearlake officers when they were called to a home on the 4700 block of Yarrington Court on a domestic battery complaint July 25. Lopez fled the scene before police arrived, Clearlake Police Sgt. Martin Snyder said in an email Monday.
Though Lopez was not arrested, the case was being reviewed by county prosecutors prior to the fatal shooting, District Attorney Don Anderson said.
Lopez’s wife, 25, called 911 at 12:43 a.m. Sunday after the man started shooting, police said.
Lopez, a laborer, was found dead in the driveway with a firearm nearby and what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
The children were found inside an SUV parked in the driveway, police said. Three of them, ages 9 months, 2 years and 4 years, died at the scene from gunshot wounds. The fourth child, identified only as a 5-year-old, was in stable condition Monday despite being shot in the chest, the Clearlake Police Department said.
The wife and children weren’t identified Monday.
More than four months prior, on March 10, authorities jailed Lopez on suspicion of corporal injury on a spouse, said a clerk for the court’s criminal division. Lopez entered a no contest plea for the misdemeanor charge and spent four days in jail. He was additionally sentenced to three years of informal probation, which requires offenders to report to a courthouse and prove they’ve followed the court’s orders.
The ruling directed Lopez to complete 20 hours of community service work and enroll in a 52-week batterer intervention program. It also barred him from owning any weapons.
He also had a restraining order filed against him, though the details of the order were not available Monday, Anderson said.
“You do not report to probation officers or have any follow up,” Anderson said of the informal probation. “You’re on probation as long you don’t commit the same or similar offense.”
Anderson said the informal probation was typical for offenders convicted of misdemeanor cases.
Authorities put out a warrant for Lopez’s arrest after he missed a May 21 hearing to prove he complied with the firearms prohibition in that case, the court clerk said. He was arrested three days later on suspicion of misdemeanor battery of a spouse, along with three felony complaints for failure to register as a sex offender, Lake County jail logs showed.
Lopez was released again but never appeared in court when prosecutors filed charges in the second case, prompting a judge to issue a $25,000 bench warrant, Anderson said.
Lopez was convicted of committing lewd or lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14 in 2003, the state’s sex offender registry website shows. He was listed as “deported.”
Attempts to reach family and friends on social media were not successful Monday.
You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @nashellytweets.