Investigators and family members suspect marital woes drove a Mariposa man to shoot and kill his wife and sister-in-law Friday night in Hilmar. Hours later the suspect was confronted by law enforcement and shot to death outside a Turlock motel.
Around 8 p.m. Friday the Merced County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call reporting multiple shots fired in the 11000 block of Lander Avenue. Officials from the coroner’s office said the women died at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds.
The two women were identified as Ronda Hiatt, 47, of Mariposa, and Lisa Robbins, 51, of Hilmar. The shooter has been identified as Hiatt’s husband, Brian Hiatt, 49, of Mariposa.
Courtney Metzger, a niece to both women, said the couple had been married for a little over a year and had recently been having problems in the marriage, which was one of the reasons why Ronda Hiatt was at the Hilmar residence where Robbins lived. Both women had also attended a graduation ceremony for Ronda Hiatt’s daughter just days before the shooting.
At some point Brian Hiatt came to the Lander Avenue residence and confronted his wife before pulling out a gun and turning it on the two sisters.
“Losing one is horrible, but losing two at the same time, you just don’t know where to go,” said Metzger. “We feel lost. All we have is each other right now.”
Merced County Sheriff’s detectives identified Brian Hiatt as the suspected shooter early into the homicide investigation. Within a few hours they had developed information he was staying at the Motel 6 at 250 S. Walnut Rd. in Turlock and contacted the Turlock Police Department to assist with his arrest.
Very few details about the officer involved shooting have been released.
The sheriff’s deputies were headed toward the Motel 6 when they saw Brian Hiatt on the street and approached him.
A man recorded the encounter from across the street at Carl’s Jr. The recording is too far to see the shooting, but it does capture one burst of gunfire followed rapidly by more gunshots.
The suspect’s body was on Walnut Road between the motel and the McDonald’s on the corner.