Woodland police investigate suspected murder-suicide
Crime tape was removed Monday after police invested an apparent murder-suicide that took place Sunday on the 200 block of Riverside in Woodland. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo
WOODLAND — The man suspected of fatally shooting his girlfriend at her Woodland home while her three children were in another room had a history of domestic violence, child molestation and animal abuse convictions, Yolo Superior Court records show.
Jose Pedro Hernandez’s last acts of violence occurred at about 5 p.m. Sunday, when authorities say he killed 41-year-old Margarita Lopez with a single gunshot wound to the head before turning the gun on himself. Hernandez, 47, died of multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest, Yolo County Chief Deputy Coroner Gina Moya said.
The shootings occurred at about 5 p.m. at Lopez’s house at 294 Riverside Drive, on the northeast corner of Riverside and Ashley Avenue.
“She was very nice, a very sweet lady,” said Winters resident Bob Kunst, who rented the cream-colored home to Lopez and her teenage children for roughly the past four years. He described her as an “excellent” tenant, cleaning office buildings for a living.
Kunst said knew nothing about Hernandez, who apparently did not live in the house.
“I was horrified for the kids, and for her,” Kunst said.
Yolo Superior Court records show Hernandez had convictions for two 1995 cases — one for domestic violence, the other for lewd and lascivious acts on a child under age 14 and corporal injury on a child. A 1998 arrest for animal abuse resulted in diversion, court records show.
Hernandez’s only recent run-in with authorities in Yolo County occurred last year, when he was charged with not being in possession of a license while driving. The case was dismissed after he showed proof of correction.
Woodland police Sgt. Brett Hancock said officers arrived at the scene Sunday to find both Hernandez and Lopez suffering from gunshot wounds. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
Four other people — an adult and several children, apparently Lopez’s — were inside the house at the time but did not witness the shootings and were not injured, Hancock said. Anyone with information about the case is urged to call investigators at 530-666-2411.
The only sign of any police activity at the house Monday was a pile of crime-scene tape discarded at the corner of the garage. Otherwise, the home appeared normal, with a recently delivered jug of drinking water sitting on the front porch and gardening shears set aside near some clippings, as if weekend gardening chores had been interrupted.
One neighbor who asked not to be identified said the street has seen considerable turnover in recent years, with Lopez’s family being among the newer residents.
While he didn’t know the couple well, “I’ve heard that (the boyfriend) was real jealous,” said the man, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.
The man said one of his neighbors saw Hernandez leave the home around the time of the shootings and walk eastbound down Riverside Drive before turning around and going back into the house. It wasn’t clear whether this was before or after Lopez was shot.
Sunday’s incident marks Woodland’s second homicide in less than six weeks. On March 18, 33-year-old Scott Michael Zumbrum was fatally stabbed during an altercation in the 600 block of Elm Street.
Zumbrum’s alleged killer, Julio Demetrio Gayton, 26, was arrested the following week and is awaiting trial in Yolo Superior Court. A second man identified by police as a “person of interest” in the case, 23-year-old Jesse Armando Tapia, remains at large.
— Reach Lauren Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8048. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenkeene