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California Dad Fatally Shot the Mother and Grandmother of His Twin 7-Year-Old Boys During Custody Exchange: Sheriff

Salvador Velasquez Jr. (Riverside County Sheriff's Office)

Salvador Velasquez Jr. (Riverside County Sheriff’s Office)

A 39-year-old man in California was arrested this week for allegedly killing the mother and grandmother of his twin 7-year-old boys.

Salvador Velasquez Jr. was taken into custody on Saturday and charged with four counts of murder in the deaths of Esmeralda Casillas, 36, and her mother, Ofelia Casillas, 68, authorities announced.

According to a press release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, deputies with the Moreno Valley Station at approximately 7:48 p.m. on Nov. 18 responded to a 911 call reporting a possible shooting in the area of Eucalyptus Avenue and the Old Highway 215.

First responders arrived at the address within minutes of the call, and deputies say they found two adult females injured inside of a parked vehicle. Both women appeared to have sustained gunshot wounds. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel arrived at the address and transported both victims — later identified as Esmeralda and Ofelia — to a local hospital for treatment. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, both women succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced dead.

The twin 7-year-old boys were found unharmed inside the home, the sheriff’s office said.

The area where the two women were discovered was secured by detectives from the Moreno Valley Station and the Central Homicide Unit. In the course of the investigation, detectives identified Velasquez as a suspect.

The sheriff department’s Major Crimes Unit and Special Weapons and Special Weapons and Tactics Team on Nov. 19 obtained and executed a search warrant on Velasquez’s home in Coachella. Authorities served Velasquez with the warrant and took him into custody. He was booked at the John Benoit Detention Center in Indio.

Investigators determined that the two women’s deaths were “a case of domestic violence,” with the shooting allegedly taking place “shortly after” a “custody exchange of the two twin seven year old boys.”

The custody exchange took place at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Friday, with Esmeralda and Ofelia turning the children over to Velasquez, according to a report from the Palm Springs Desert Sun. Adrian Olascoaga, who identified himself as a relative of the two victims, reportedly told the Desert Sun that the twin boys were placed in the custody of Velasquez’s parents following the shooting.

“We, Esmeralda and Ofelia’s family, are seeking the support of the community in recovering the children and bringing them into our loving home away from a potentially cold-hearted and vicious killer that might do them harm,” Olascoaga reportedly told the newspaper.

Olascoaga is reportedly Ofelia’s grandson and Esmeralda’s nephew, and he said that his family was hoping to take custody of the two children.

The Desert Sun reported that the custody exchange between Esmeralda and Velasquez typically took place in Moreno Valley per a custody agreement that was reached between the two following a multi-year legal battle.

Velasquez is currently being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in the Riverside Hall of Justice at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Investigators urged anyone with information relevant to the double-homicide to contact the Central Homicide Unit at 951–955–2777.

[image via Riverside County Sheriff]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.