Longtime feud ends with 5 dead in quiet Santa Maria mobile home park, police say

A burned car sits in the driveway of a mobile home that exploded in Santa Maria.
(Mike Hodgson / Associated Press)

A longstanding dispute ended with the deaths of five people Friday following a shooting and an explosion in a quiet mobile home park in Central California, authorities said.

Officials say Claude Adams, 64, shot and killed 70-year-old Kurt Bracke and 78-year-old Richard Hanen of Santa Maria at Casa Grande Mobile Estates. Santa Maria police said Adams had an ongoing dispute with Bracke and Hanen and as a result, Adams was being evicted from the neighborhood.

Following the shooting, police said Adams returned to his home, which later exploded in flames.

Three bodies — believed to be those of Adams; his 65-year-old wife, Sherry Adams; and their son, 33-year-old Seth Adams — were found inside the burned-out mobile home. Positive identification is still pending confirmation from the Santa Barbara County coroner’s bureau.


Firefighters could not immediately put out the blaze because the gunman was believed to be nearby and authorities feared that ammunition could go off inside the house, fueling the flames. The fire burned several other residences.

Authorities initially reported that four people had been killed in the two incidents but later said more bodies were found inside the ruins of the mobile home.

Officials say Adams shot and killed Bracke and Hanen in the clubhouse area of the park before returning to his home. Residents told the Santa Maria Times that two men got into an argument with a third man at the mobile home park’s golf course shortly before Bracke and Hanen were killed.

Officials are still sorting out the timeline of events. They think Adams killed his wife and son, but an exact cause of death for the people whose bodies were found inside the burned-out mobile home is still under investigation.


“Without an actual eyewitness, it’s impossible to say,” said Lt. Paul Van Meel with the detective’s bureau.