Barricaded man commits suicide at area business
By Peggy Kelly
Santa Paula Police Department
Published: December 12, 2012
A 57-year-old man apparently having a work-related issue barricaded himself and then committed suicide at his long-time employer’s Santa Paula business complex Thursday.
Santa Paula Interim Police Chief Ishmael Cordero said the December 6 incident started when Steven Jetton entered National Oilwell Varco Tuboscope, where he worked as a manager.
SPPD officers responded at 3:02 p.m. to reports of an armed man at the business, located at 106 E. Santa Maria St., between Palm Avenue and Peck Road. All employees - Cordero estimated about 11 of Jetton’s co-workers were at the business when the incident occurred - were able to exit the building and property unharmed.
Santa Paula Fire personnel and other emergency responders were also called to the gray building at the business complex. Santa Maria Street was shut down, and members of the SPPD’s Citizen Patrol oversaw the sealed off the street for hours.
Despite repeated attempts police were unable to make contact with Jetton, who reportedly had stated to coworkers he was going to commit suicide. According to SPPD Detective Ken Clark, Jetton “did contact one family member prior to the act,” who arrived at the business followed by two other family members. The nature of the communication is being investigated.
About four hours passed before a Ventura County Sheriff’s Department robot - as well as SPPD surveillance technology - was used to determine Jetton’s location inside the building. At that point it was determined the man was lying on the floor and the Santa Paula Special Response Team entered the building and found Jetton was deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Cordero and Clark said there is no suspicion of alcohol or drug use by Jetton, but confirmation is awaiting a toxicology report. Cordero said police never had prior contact with Jetton, and there was no indication of previous animosity from him. Jetton, said Cordero, did not leave a note and it was unknown when he committed suicide, as traffic on adjacent Highway 126 could mask the sound of a gunshot.
“The early stages of the investigation indicate this was a work-related matter that (Jetton) appears to have brought on himself,” Cordero said, without going into detail. “It was a shock to the other workers” at the company, which provides testing services for oil and gas companies.
Overall, Cordero added, “We’re still investigating, but we can’t say too much at the this point, not until the final period is put on the final sentence.”