A deadly shooting outside of Basham Funeral Care on Tuesday left virtually everyone in attendance traumatized.
“There’s so many feelings that you have that you can’t explain,” said John Basham, owner of the establishment located at 3312 Niles Street. “We felt like we were being attacked.”
At 11:55 a.m. the Kern County Sheriff’s Office received reports of a possible active shooter at the funeral home in east Bakersfield. Shortly after, they located a 28-year-old man shot dead in the parking lot. A funeral that the victim was going to attend was occurring at the time.
Basham said that the shooting had “nothing to do” with the family they were serving. He explained that the service was just a “normal, everyday funeral” and that due to COVID-19 restrictions, only 25 percent capacity was allowed inside while about 100 people congregated in the parking lot.
Basham said he was busy making photocopies when he heard about five to six gunshots, followed by nearly all of the people outside of the building running inside to take cover. He said there was an individual that suffered a seizure during all the hysteria.
“The family (we were serving) is traumatized, the people who were here have been traumatized by this and my employees have been traumatized,” Basham said. “A funeral home or cemetery are kind of sacred grounds and these kinds of things don’t take place there, so it was totally unexpected.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there was no suspect information and all of the witnesses fled prior to deputies arriving on scene, according to KCSO. The Sheriff’s Office believes at least two people fired guns during this incident, which appeared to be gang related, KCSO said.
KCSO had Niles Street blocked off between Pesante Road and Vale Street until about 3:24 p.m. The victim’s body was removed from the scene at about 3:12 p.m.
Basham said police left the scene at about 4:30 p.m. He said that the funeral home has been around for 35 years and he’s served at 20,000 funeral services, but nothing like this has happened before.
“I was in the navy, but I was never put in harm’s way and so this is — I can’t imagine what people feel like in a real war situation,” Basham said.
He said that he will be more than happy to help accommodate any of his employees that feel like they need to sit down and talk about the incident.
“I’m just trying to get things back to normal in here,” Basham said.