IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Two dead in Calif. workplace murder-suicide

A gunman shot and killed a man and seriously wounded his estranged wife at a wastewater facility in Santa Cruz on Friday before killing himself, police said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A gunman shot and killed a man and seriously wounded his estranged wife at a wastewater facility Friday before killing himself, police said.

Steven Harold Smith, 50, shot two fellow employees about 7 a.m. at the Lode Street Wastewater Facility, according to Sheriff's Sgt. Fred Plageman.

Mike Sotelo, 41, died at the scene. He was the supervisor for office administration, Plageman said.

The suspect's wife, Tamara Smith, 45, tried to escape in her car but was shot multiple times, police said. She was hospitalized in grave condition, Plageman said.

Police said co-workers described the shooting as the result of a love triangle. Investigators could not immediately confirm a romantic relationship between Sotelo and Tamara Smith but believe Steve Smith may have been angered because Sotelo was trying to act as an intermediary between the couple, Plageman said.

Two handguns were recovered at the scene, but Plageman would not comment on who owned them.

Steve Smith went inside the administrative part of the facility and shot Sotelo in his office, Plageman said.

Smith then went outside and shot his wife while she was inside her car. She tried to drive away, but hit a flagpole, a curb and a fence before running into a large eucalyptus tree, Plageman said.

Steven Smith was the pump station maintenance supervisor, and his wife was a maintenance worker. The two were separated and in the process of getting divorced, Plageman said.

More than 30 law enforcement officers searched the scene but found no additional suspects. Several witnesses also were being interviewed by investigators.

About 40 people work at the facility. Most employees were sent home for the day after the shooting, police said.

Requests for comment at the Lode Street facility were referred to the Santa Cruz County Administrative Office, which did not immediately return a call.