A troubled marriage ended violently Wednesday when a Santa Ana man, described as jealous and physically abusive, fatally shot his wife and himself at the family’s home.
One of the couple’s four children called police shortly after 7:30 a.m., after hearing gunshots from a bedroom, Santa Ana Police Sgt. Baltazar De La Riva said.
Police arrived at the house in the 1400 block of South Lowell Street and found Jose Cardenas, 44, and Gloria Cardenas, 38, dead.
“There was a history of domestic violence,” De La Riva said. “Santa Ana police have responded to this house before.”
In April, police arrested Jose Cardenas, a landscaper, for spousal abuse and helped Gloria Cardenas obtain an emergency restraining order. Family members said Cardenas spent 15 days in jail.
Emergency protective orders expired after five days, De La Riva said. For an extension, “it’s up to the victim to follow up and go to the court,” he said.
Gloria Cardenas never did, he said.
Jose Cardenas’ brother-in-law, Prisciliano Salcedo, said he had spoken often with him about his 20-year-plus marriage to Gloria and how it was unraveling.
“He used to hit her; he was very jealous,” Salcedo said. “They were separating, they were divorcing,” he said. “How can you know what is in a person’s head? You talk to them, but you never know.”
Gloria was a surrogate parent to her younger siblings after their mother died in a car crash 23 years ago, said her brother Miguel Barjas, 25. When their father died of cancer soon after, Barjas said, Gloria again held the family together.
Barjas said he had long been aware that Gloria and her husband had had violent arguments that often ended in blows. He did not intervene, however, because he hoped they would work out their problems, he said.
But Jose Cardenas continued to stalk his wife even after they separated and he had moved out of the house, said her sister Griselda Barjas. Two days ago, he sneaked up behind them as they left a restaurant in Garden Grove and attacked her, Barjas said. A bystander defended the women and in the process sent Jose Cardenas to the hospital with minor injuries, she said.
But on Wednesday, he went to his wife’s house. Witnesses told police they heard the couple arguing inside and saw Cardenas walk to the backyard and retrieve a semiautomatic handgun. He shot his wife several times in the upper torso before shooting himself in the head, De La Riva said. None of the children, who range in age from 5 to 19, witnessed the shooting, he said.
Jesus Barjas, 27, said his sister worked with cosmetics and dreamed of opening a business. He said she was eagerly anticipating the end of the abusive marriage.
“They had separated, they were going to divorce, they were going to sell the house,” Barjas said. “But she waited too long.”