A California Highway Patrol officer killed himself after shooting his wife dead outside of a nutrition store the officer broke into, authorities said.
The deaths took place in Martell in northern California on Monday night, Sept. 3.
Brad Wheat, the officer, was off-duty at the time of the shooting, according to the Amador County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies responded to Get Ripped Nutrition around 10:45 p.m. after the store’s owner called 911 and said that he and Mary Wheat, Brad Wheat’s wife, were locked inside the vitamin store while the officer was outside banging on the door.
Deputies rushed over and arrived just minutes later but they heard shots being fired. They found the Wheats dead and the store owner injured, with a gunshot wound to his shoulder, reported the Record Net. The owner is expected to survive.
A witness told deputies that Wheat was unable to get through the door so he fired a gun through the store’s front window and gained access.
Once inside, he shot the owner and struggled with the owner and his wife.
The fight moved outside to the parking lot, culminating with Brad Wheat shooting his wife before shooting himself.
The Wheats leave behind four children.
A tragic scene here in Amador County. Officials are investigating an apparent murder-suicide involving an off-duty CHP officer & his wife.
— Frances Wang (@FrancesWangTV) September 4, 2018
TONIGHT AT 5: A friend of Mary & Brad Wheat says the entire community is mourning after they were found dead last night. Sheriff’s officials say the off-duty CHP officer shot his wife before turning the gun on himself.
— Olivia DeGennaro (@OliviaDeGennaro) September 4, 2018
Investigators Working on Motive
Investigators said they’re still probing a motive for the killings but alluded to a relationship between the business owner and Mary Wheat.
“We believe there was a relationship between the victim, the husband, and his wife,” sheriff’s spokesman Gary Redman told the Los Angeles Times.
Gloria Vallejo, who owns a restaurant near the nutrition store, told CBS that Mary Wheat had been having lunch at her bar on a number of recent days.
“Lately, Mary had been coming in to have lunch, to have a drink, she’ll be at the bar just hanging out,” Vallejo said. Vallejo said she saw the Get Ripped Nutrition owner having lunch with Wheat on Friday, Aug. 31, three days before the incident.
Amador Sheriff Martin Ryan told the Record Net that there’s been a lot of talk about the nature of the relationship between the three people involved in the shootings but declined to provide details.
“There is a lot of speculation on what transpired. We are still working through that,” Ryan said. “We are concerned about the surviving victim, the children, and the impact on our community. We have few homicides here; this doesn’t happen up here with any frequency at all.”