Reynaldo Herrera Rodriguez pulled in front of the two-story Simi Valley home, according to police, and hurried to an open garage door in a desperate search for his ex-girlfriend.
The ex-girlfriend's 16-year-old brother met Rodriguez as he stepped into the garage Wednesday afternoon. Without a word, Rodriguez allegedly pulled out a handgun and opened fire, hitting the brother in the right thigh.
For the next few minutes, police said, Rodriguez moved methodically from room to room, picking off victims. By the time he sped off in a rented blue 2002 Ford Explorer, he allegedly had killed three of the former girlfriend's relatives and wounded three others.
As authorities continued to search for Rodriguez Thursday, they revealed more details about the Caltrans engineer and the bloody rampage in the upscale neighborhood.
His ex-girlfriend was not home during the shootings. So Rodriguez simply lashed out at anyone he found inside, said Simi Valley Police Lt. Rex Jones.
"He went through that house," Jones said, "finding his victims."
Police said they believe Rodriguez is armed and dangerous and have launched a massive manhunt involving several police agencies in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Officers have continued to keep a watch over the surviving members of the family of Ana and Rafael Calderon under the belief that their lives might still be in danger. The Calderons were not home at the time of the shooting.
Authorities said it was a relationship between Rodriguez, 35, of Thousand Oaks and one of the Calderon's five children, Maria Calderon, 24, that apparently touched off Wednesday's violence. Calderon had just moved back in with her family about two weeks ago.
Killed in the shooting were Esperanza Martinez, 80, grandson Ricardo Calderon, 12, and great granddaughter Shantal Rios, 4. Injured were Lucia Vargas, 19, Rigoberto Calderon, 16, and Rafael Calderon Jr., 18.
As neighbors and news media gathered in front of the house Thursday morning, a weary Rafael Calderon Sr. returned home to collect personal items. He was accompanied by Rigoberto, on crutches because of a bullet wound in the leg, and Rafael Jr., wearing a cast around an ankle and bandages around a wrist he injured jumping from a second-story window to escape the assault.
"We just want to thank every one of our family and friends for all of the support they have given us," the elder Calderon said.
Simi Valley police said that at about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, after Rodriguez shot Rigoberto in the garage, he walked inside the five-bedroom home, where he found the youth's sister, Lucia Vargas, and the family's grandmother, Esperanza Martinez. Vargas was hit in the hand and abdomen. Martinez was shot several times in the midsection.
Rodriguez then ran upstairs, looking for more victims, police said.
He found Shantal Rios, the daughter of his former girlfriend, and fatally shot her, police said. Shantal's 12-year-old uncle, Ricardo Calderon, was then shot several times and killed.
Escape Through a Bathroom Window
As the shots rang out, Rafael Calderon Jr. scrambled to escape through a small window in a second-story bathroom. Calderon dropped to the ground, injuring his ankle, and hobbled to a next door neighbor's house to call 911.
Simi Valley Police Sgt. Karl Becker said the department has been getting about 10 calls an hour since Wednesday's shooting from people saying they have either seen Rodriguez or the blue Explorer.
At one point Thursday, dozens of armed officers responded to a call of a man matching Rodriguez's description and toting a shotgun at a medical complex on a hillside behind Simi Valley Hospital.
Within minutes, police officers and sheriff's deputies surrounded the building. A sheriff's helicopter circled overhead as shotgun-wielding officers, led by a police dog, searched the complex.
The search was called off within an hour after police determined that the "gunman" was actually a gardener working in a nearby field and carrying a hoe.
At Simi Valley schools Thursday, classmates of the Calderon children paid tribute to their friends.
Students and teachers at Royal High School observed a moment of silence during morning announcements. At Valley View Middle School, students passing between classes and during lunch gathered at an amphitheater in the school's quad. They stood and consoled each other, helped place flowers and tacked up notes and a banner that read, "In loving memory of Ricardo."
And at White Oak Elementary School, where Shantal Rios began kindergarten last week, two psychologists were on hand to counsel students and parents if needed.
In Thousand Oaks, meanwhile, undercover officers kept watch on the Teasdale Street home of Reynaldo Rodriguez and the home of his parents, Reynaldo Sr. and Alicia Rodriguez, where family members gathered throughout the day.
Relatives refused to discuss the killings or any aspect of Rodriguez's life.
Times staff writers Tina Dirmann and Jenifer Ragland contributed to this story.