The family lived in an apartment complex in Gilroy and mourners continue to flock to the front door to pay their respects. By all accounts, things became stressful for the family as soon 27-year-old Abel Gutierrez returned home from Iraq.
Chaplains with the Gilroy Police Department led a candlelight vigil to help those who knew the Gutierrezes grieve. Tragedy struck the family Wednesday night when Abel shot and killed his sister, then shot and killed himself.
Police say the sister, Lucero, was only 11 years old. She attended South Valley Middle School and that's where students signed a banner to honor her. Counselors came into each classroom first thing in the morning to break the news. Daniela Covenas was Lucero's friend.
"A lot of people were crying and they were just talking about how she was funny and how she used to hang around everyone and everyone was just crying because everyone knew her well," said Covenas.
Police believe Abel shot his mother too, based on forensic evidence at the scene. But her whereabouts are unknown. Investigators are desperately trying to find her.
"We believe she's been critically wounded or she is deceased and that's why we're asking for the public's help because we need to find her to see if she needs medical attention," said Gilroy Police Sgt. Chad Gallacinao.
Police say Abel suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. In fact, they were so worried about his behavior they called police last month. Officers began working with the family to help him get services. Those who interacted with Abel say it was clear something was off.
"They didn't want to be around him because some of the kids, some of them knew he would carry a gun, on the back of his pocket, on the back of his pants," said Ray Rivas, a family friend.
Police have alerted law enforcement agencies throughout the state in hopes of finding Abel's mother, Martha. They've also gone over her cellphone records, but have found nothing helpful.