Husband, dad of 4 shot dead by man firing at motorists in Riverside County

profile photo
By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

A 39-year-old man was arrested after reportedly firing at passing commuters in Riverside County early Monday morning, killing a husband and father of four children and injuring another person.  

The tragedy unfolded around 6:30 a.m. on State Street in San Jacinto near West 7th Street.

Authorities with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department flooded the intersection on reports of the suspect, now identified as Julio Cesar Rodarte, firing randomly at passing cars. 

For Griselda Zepeda, whose husband Victor Hugo Leon was allegedly killed by Rodarte, the loss is unbearable. Married for 13 years, she and Leon were raising their four children in the first home they ever bought two years ago in San Jacinto.  

“He was a very lovable person,” she told KTLA’s Shelby Nelson. “He leaves us very broken. He had that mean face, but he was such a sweetheart, always doing his best for his family.”  

Leon worked an overnight shift at a warehouse in Moreno Valley and normally arrived home in the morning, but when his now widow woke up Monday morning, he wasn’t there.  

A call to her sister, who worked with Leon, confirmed that he had left work about an hour earlier.

“More time kept passing by. I just had a feeling something bad had happened,” she explained. “After him not calling me back after 40 times, I knew something was bad. I reported him missing. I went to every hospital hoping they would tell me he was there.”  

Surveillance footage captured the moment Rodarte started randomly shooting at cars on State Street. At one point, he’s seen firing off an entire magazine, tossing it and loading up another.  

From another angle, the 39-year-old can be seen walking on the sidewalk as he shoots at a black truck and other cars. Later, Rodarte seems to be kicking off his shoes, with witnesses telling KTLA that the alleged gunman eventually got undressed.  

“I guess they shot him from the front, and he still attempted to take off,” Zepeda said of her husband. “I don’t know what was going through his mind, the last breath he took. It hurts me so much.” 

It is unclear where exactly authorities found the 39-year-old, but he was taken into custody and booked on one count of murder and 10 counts of attempted murder. So far, the motive for the violence is unknown.  

Zepeda said people should hug their loved ones because you never know what can happen and added that she will need God to get through this.  

“He got really close to God. No matter if it’s bad or good, you should always get close to God,” she explained. “I remember that, and I need to do that to get through this.”  

A GoFundMe has been organized to help Leon’s family with the expense of laying their loved one to rest.  

Authorities say the second shooting victim is in stable condition. 

author photo
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.