Kern County sheriff’s deputy dies in Wasco hostage standoff


One deputy with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office died and another was wounded Sunday afternoon as they attempted to free hostages whom a gunman was holding inside a home in Wasco, a town 24 miles northwest of Bakersfield, according to city and sheriff’s officials.

Kern County Sheriff’s Lt. Joel Swanson said during a news conference that the two deputies suffered moderate to major injuries. He said both were taken to a local hospital and at least one was in critical condition.

For the record:

9:16 a.m. July 26, 2021An earlier version of this article mislabeled the agency that identified the slain deputy as the Kern County Deputy Sheriff’s Assn. It was the Kings County Deputy Sheriff’s Assn. that confirmed the identification of Deputy Phillip Campas.

Several hours later, the Kern County Detention Officers Assn. said one of the deputies had been killed in the line of duty. Shortly after, Wasco Mayor Alex Garcia released a statement confirming the deputy’s death.


“My heart goes out to the families of both the deputies,” Garcia wrote. “Nothing can prepare us for tragedies such as these.”

The Kings County Deputy Sheriff’s Assn. later identified the deputy killed as Phillip Campas, a Marine veteran who had served the county on patrol and the honor guard as well as on the SWAT team.

The incident began at 1 p.m. when the Kern County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls about a shooting inside a home in the 100 block of 1st Street.

Gunshots could be heard in the background of additional calls as deputies drove to the scene, Swanson said, and there were reports of possible shooting victims inside the home.

When deputies arrived, a person inside began shooting at them, Swanson said.

“The deputies at that time were not struck but took cover,” he said during a news conference. “The entire neighborhood was locked down at that time and the SWAT team was called.”


Shortly before 3 p.m., the SWAT team attempted to make its way into the house and the gunman opened fire, striking two SWAT deputies.

Swanson said that at 6:28 p.m. officers entered the home and exchanged gunfire with the gunman, wounding him. He said the gunman received medical treatment and was taken to a local hospital.

Swanson said at least two people were inside the home, but he did not know their condition.

“Deputies are still attempting to clear the house,” he said. “This is still an active investigation.”