By Quinn Western and Bill Lindelof
Folsom police on Friday continued to try to determine what led to the stabbing spree that left an infant dead and his mother in critical condition.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the infant as Roberto Varela, who was just days short of 6 months old. The office on Friday identified the suspect as Jose Reyes Torres, 20.
The suspect was shot dead by the first officer who arrived at the bloody scene at a Montrose Drive apartment building on Thursday. Police say the suspect, who was the infant’s cousin, may have wanted to be shot by officers in what is commonly referred to as “suicide by cop.”
The baby was pronounced dead at 4:11 p.m. Thursday, about 90 minutes after police fatally shot a man who was brandishing a knife outside the Folsom apartment building after the infant and his mother were stabbed, authorities said.
The two victims and the suspect were taken to hospitals, said Officer Andrew Bates, Folsom police spokesman. The suspect died en route to a hospital. Roberto was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said.
The baby’s mother, identified by the coroner’s website as Arela Aguilar, was in a hospital intensive care unit Friday. Other public records list her first name is Areli. The website lists the baby’s father as Chesar Varela.
Bates said officers arrived at the apartment building at 2:30 p.m. Thursday after receiving calls of a stabbing in progress.
“The first officer was confronted by the suspect who was bloody and had just stabbed his aunt and her son,” said Bates. “That officer fired one shot, striking the suspect. Then the officer had to wrestle with the suspect in an effort to subdue him. He continued to fight with officers even after having been shot.”
Officers eventually subdued Torres and placed him in handcuffs. Medical personnel soon arrived.
Bates would not say if the suspect charged or threatened the officer. The circumstances of the stabbing and resulting officer-involved shooting are still being investigated.
Bates said the suspect may have wanted to die at the hands of police officers.
“Some of the reported statements by the suspect just prior to the stabbing are leading us to investigate whether this is a ‘suicide by cop’ situation,” said Bates, who said witnesses were still being contacted Friday. He declined to disclose the statements.
James McLean, a neighbor, said he heard two gunshots and screaming from the nearby apartment building as he was doing yardwork. He went to investigate and saw authorities tending to a wounded man who appeared to be offering “some resistance.”
Nearby, he said, he saw an apparently injured woman “lying on the grass by the wall.” He said she was alive and “her legs were moving.” Soon afterward, he said, he saw paramedics taking out the baby.
Jennifer Dermer, who lives next door to the apartment complex, said she arrived home right after the incident and saw a woman covered in blood, crying and screaming.
Dermer said she did not know any of those involved. But as the mother of a 2-year-old herself, she said she “cried for most of the night,” after learning that an infant was killed in the incident.
On Friday morning, Dermer added items including flowers, a teddy bear and a candle to a memorial at the apartment complex.