Man Slain as Family Quarrel Turns Violent : Santa Paula: Moises Galaviz is held in shooting of one brother, wounding of another. Siblings were arguing over who is ‘top banana’ on citrus ranch, official says.


A Santa Paula man was arrested early Monday on suspicion of fatally shooting his brother and wounding another brother in the arm during a family gathering at their rural ranch house.

Moises Galaviz, 41, was booked into Ventura County Jail on suspicion of murder and held on $250,000 bail.

He is suspected of killing his 35-year-old brother, Jose Luis Galaviz, and wounding Aurelio Galaviz, another brother of undisclosed age. Jose Galaviz was pronounced dead at the scene. Aurelio Galaviz was treated for a gunshot wound to the arm at Santa Paula Memorial Hospital.


Sheriff’s Lt. Paul Anderson said gunfire erupted about 1:30 a.m. Monday during a quarrel over who was the supervisor at the sprawling citrus ranch where the three brothers apparently worked.

“There was a family argument over who was the top banana,” Anderson said. “They were arguing about who’s the boss and the guy decided to accent his point.”

After the shooting, sheriff’s officials said Moises Galaviz ran into a nearby orchard toward the Santa Clara River. Sheriff’s officials launched an intensive manhunt, with several police dogs, a sheriff’s helicopter and the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team.

About 6 a.m., Galaviz was found in woods near the ranch and arrested without incident. He was in possession of the handgun believed to be the murder weapon, Anderson said.

Galaviz had been drinking, Anderson said, but it was unclear how much.

Late Monday afternoon, members of the Galaviz family sat red-eyed and sullen inside their wood-sided ranch house surrounded by orange groves on South Mountain Road.

A priest from a local church was present, making funeral arrangements for Jose Galaviz. The men’s mother, Andrea Ornaes, visiting from Zacatecas, Mexico, was at the family gathering when the shooting took place, a coroner’s spokeswoman said.

“We don’t have anything to say,” one family member said. “We don’t want any of that publicity.”

The house is among a handful of residences that line South Mountain Road as it winds past the citrus ranches south of Santa Paula. It is ordinarily a quiet place to live, said Bob Smith, who lives across the street from the where the shooting occurred.

“You expect this kind of thing in town,” Smith said. “That’s one of the reasons I live out here. Out here you don’t expect this kind of thing to happen.”

Although he doesn’t know the family well, Smith said he was at the Galaviz residence on Sunday afternoon to ask permission to dump some brush on their property. The party was just getting started, and Smith said he and his wife, Suzanne, were invited to stay. They declined.

Later that night, Smith said he heard five or six shots, followed by a piercing scream. The police activity kept him up until about 2:30 a.m.

“They seemed like real nice people,” Smith said. “I guess things just got out of hand.”