Three sisters and their father, who fatally shot them and their chaperone before killing himself inside the sanctuary of The Church in Sacramento during a supervised visit in California on Monday, were all members of the church, officials have confirmed.
The Sacramento coroner’s office identified the father as David Mora Rojas, 39. His daughters were identified as: Samarah Mora Gutierrez, 9; Samantha Mora Gutierrez, 10; and Samia Mora Gutierrez, 13. The late chaperone was identified as Nathaniel Kong, 59. Business records show that he was an executive of the church.
In a statement published on the church’s website Tuesday, officials said the congregation was “devastated and heartbroken” by the tragedy.
“The leadership of The Church in Sacramento is shocked and saddened by the tragic shooting that occurred in our church meeting hall late Monday, February 28, resulting in the deaths of five of our members, including three young girls from one of our families,” the church said.
“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,” they continued. “We continue to cooperate with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department in their investigation, are committed to ministering to anyone in need during this difficult time and are doing everything possible to provide comfort to our congregation as we come together as a church family.”
“It’s just horrific, and unfortunately, it does happen in the county. Domestic violence is all too common. This obviously rising to the level of killing innocent children is obviously beyond anyone’s rational comprehension,” Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said in a televised interview after the shootings.
Court documents cited by ABC News show that Rojas was out on bail at the time of the killings after an arrest last week for multiple charges, including assaulting a police 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.
Rojas was arrested on Feb. 23, but he posted bail and was released after spending one night in jail.
The mother of his late daughters describes him as “a jealous person.” She sought and obtained a temporary restraining order against him last year after he threatened to kill her. The temporary restraining order issued in April 2021 had also prohibited Rojas from possessing a firearm or ammunition. Police are still trying to find out how he acquired a gun.
“He threatened to kill me if he ever caught me cheating,” the mother said in court documents. The only reason why he hadn’t killed her at the time of that threat, she said, is “because he would not know where to go with the children.”
She also raised concern at the time that Rojas could flee to Mexico where he has family.
“I am scared and nervous. I am afraid (Rojas) is going to hurt me. I do not want to return home,” she wrote.
Before the five-year temporary restraining order was granted against Rojas he was taken into custody for a mental health evaluation. The order granted on May 19 limited Rojas to four hours weekly of supervised visits with his daughters with a mutually agreed-upon chaperone. He was also ordered to take anger management courses.
On Tuesday, Jovana Venegas, an aunt of the sisters, launched a GoFundMe Campaign to raise $30,000 to cover funeral expenses. Venegas described the sisters as “beautiful” and said they were “loved endlessly by everyone who surrounded them.”
“We wish to seek as much help needed toward this fundraiser,” Venegas said. “We know they deserve more than anything to at last rest in peace