AP

Court documents show abuse before California church shooting

Mar 1, 2022, 9:28 AM | Updated: 10:25 pm

Ana DeJesus, right, is comforted by her daughter, Lizbeth DeJesus after placing a teddy bear and fl...

Ana DeJesus, right, is comforted by her daughter, Lizbeth DeJesus after placing a teddy bear and flowers on a memorial at The Church in Sacramento, Calif., on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Authorities say a man shot and killed his three daughters, their chaperone and himself during a supervised visit with the girls at the church on Monday. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A man who was under a restraining order and not supposed to have a gun fatally shot his three daughters and a chaperone before killing himself during a supervised visit with the girls at a California church, officials said Tuesday.

Investigators were trying to piece together 39-year-old David Mora’s motive and how he got the weapon used in the shooting around 5 p.m. Monday at The Church in Sacramento, a nondenominational Christian place of worship. Police have not said what weapon was used; under California law, he was barred from possessing a gun because of the order.

At the time of the killings, Mora was out on bail after being arrested last week on several charges, including assaulting a police officer.

Court documents paint a disturbing picture of verbal and physical abuse inflicted by Mora on his estranged girlfriend, who is the mother of their three daughters, one of whom would have turned 11 on Wednesday.

Mora “is a very jealous person,” the woman wrote in her request for the restraining order. “He threatened to kill me if he ever caught me cheating.”

She said he told her he hadn’t killed her “because he would not know where to go with the children.” In the filing, she said he might flee to Mexico, where he had family.

“I am scared and nervous. I am afraid (Mora) is going to hurt me. I do not want to return home,” wrote the woman, whose name was withheld by The Associated Press because she was abused.

Mora, who also was identified as David Fidel Mora Rojas in court papers, was taken into custody for a mental health evaluation last April 17, and nine days later a temporary restraining order was granted.

A five-year order was imposed May 19. It stipulated Mora only have supervised visits with his daughters for up to four hours per week with a mutually agreed-upon chaperone. He also was required to take anger management courses.

Authorities identified Nathaniel Kong as the chaperone for the visitation. Kong, 59, was shot to death at the church along with the three girls, ages 13, 10 and 9. Business records show Kong had been an executive in the church. Court records show that he served Mora with the May restraining order.

“Our church body is devastated and heartbroken by this senseless tragedy and we ask for continued prayer for the victims, their family and our faith community as we grapple with this unexpected loss and trust the Lord for His strength in our grief,” a church statement said.

The girls attended schools in the Natomas Unified School District in northwestern Sacramento. Counselors and chaplains were at the schools Tuesday to provide support.

“There are very few words that can give comfort right now for this unspeakable tragedy,” the school district said in a statement.

Just a few days before the killings, Mora was arrested in Merced County, south of Sacramento. He was taken into custody on charges of resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and driving under the influence after he assaulted a California Highway Patrol officer.

“He was drunk and while they were arresting him or trying to he decided he wanted to fight and ended up with felony charges because he assaulted a CHP officer, causing injuries,” Deputy Daryl Allen, a spokesman for the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, told The Sacramento Bee.

It wasn’t known what connection Mora might have had to the church, which is in a residential area. Neighbors said the shooting occurred quickly and police swarmed the area.

Sandi Davis said she was taking her dog outside when she heard a gunshot. She immediately let go of the leash and dropped to the ground to protect herself.

Yadira Ortega, who lives across the street from the church, said she heard gunfire while sitting in her car after returning home from picking up takeout dinner for her family. She was with her 9-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. Ortega said there were multiple shots, then a pause before a final shot.

Ortega said she knows little about The Church in Sacramento other than it’s busy on Sundays but mostly quiet during the week.

A man who emerged from the church several times to talk to reporters outside said the church is made up of multiple buildings, including a living space where he and several other members live.

The man, who only gave his name as Alfredo, said he was in the church’s main building when the shooting happened and that neighbors called police because he did not have a phone.

He declined to provide more details, saying church elders planned to issue a statement later.

On Tuesday morning, a small memorial with flowers, balloons, stuffed animals, a candle and a piece of paper that read “Prayers for peace, may your souls rest” was set up outside the church.

Faith Whitmore, chief executive of the Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center that provides services to victims of domestic abuse, said the girls’ mother sought help through the agency last April. A case manager and an attorney worked with her to obtain the restraining order.

“She came in, she needed crisis intervention, she needed resources, she needed help,” said Whitmore, who did not work directly with the woman.

Whitmore said their organization will now push for their other clients to have visits supervised by professionals, and they plan to seek out funding to cover the costs.

Joyce Bilyeu, deputy director of the center, also did not work directly with the woman. She spoke generally about supervised visitations, saying the specifics can vary widely.

Sometimes, a victim will request that a pastor or grandparent be the chaperone in their home or church, she said. Other victims seek professional supervision with a trained mediator in a safe location close to law enforcement, but that option can be costly, Bilyeu said.

Bilyeu said visits in places like churches can give victims a false sense of security.

“Generally a lot of people think a church is a safe place,” she said. But “there’s no metal detectors in a church.”

A restraining order, while a typical part of the process in domestic violence cases, should not be considered a solution or deterrent to abuse, she said.

“It is not a shield of armor,” Bilyeu said.

—–

Dazio reported from Los Angeles.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

6 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

7 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

9 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

9 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

10 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Court documents show abuse before California church shooting