By Mary O’KEEFE
Information on the man who allegedly shot a La Cañada woman in her apartment on Oct. 19 then turned the gun on himself is slowly filtering through the communities of La Crescenta and La Cañada.
L.A. County Sheriff homicide confirmed it to be a murder/suicide. The Los Angeles Coroner’s office confirmed the victim was Genny Herrera, 39, of La Cañada. The identity of the male shooter was not confirmed by the coroner’s office, however it is believed to be that of La Crescenta man Aaron Welch, 47.
“Shortly after 11 a.m. [on Friday morning] the Crescenta Valley Sheriffs station received a call of an assault and possible gunshot. Deputies made entry into the upstairs apartment in the 4500 block of Lasheart Drive [in La Cañada]. They found one male and one female victim, both victims of gunshot and both deceased,” said Steve Lankford, L.A. homicide detective.
A handgun was found at the scene. Herrera’s young child was not at the apartment at the time of the murder. As for Welch, his background and what led him to this drastic and tragic end continues to be a mystery.
“I know he doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. He had mentioned some kids, but was never a part of their life,” said John Garden, co-owner of Two Nice Guys Automotive.
Garden remembered the first time he met Welch. He was in high school and Welch worked as a driver at Crescenta Valley Tow.
“He used to work at the tow company by my house and would see me working on my car. He used to say that kids my age are usually watching T.V. , not working on cars anymore,” Garden said.
They became friends through their common auto interest and went off-roading together. Nothing prepared Garden for what he learned last Friday afternoon.
“When I first heard about [the murder/suicide] I couldn’t believe it. At first when everybody was talking about it I said, ‘Where’s the proof?’ I could never see him doing anything like that. He was here the day before this happened,” Garden said.
There was no indication that Welch was depressed or upset, he added.
Garden was introduced to Herrera by Welch and had seen her a few times but didn’t know her that well. Garden said he didn’t know what Welch and Herrera’s relationship was but never got the impression they were dating. Welch worked for more than 10 years for Crescenta Valley Tow as a driver and mechanic.
“He was reliable, a hard worker but a very strange person. To do what he did…we all can’t believe it,” said Sue Present, co-owner of CV Tow.
The downturn in the economy forced Present to let Welch go from his position as driver in July 2009.
Welch had several jobs in the area. At the time of his death he was employed by the city of La Cañada working at the skate park at Cornishon Avenue south of Foothill.
“He began in August 2005 and worked very limited hours, about 10 to 15 a week. There were no issues with him and the city,” said Kevin Chun, director of administrative services for the city.
Chun said Welch went through the standard background check and there was no indication of any problems.
Welch also worked at Crescenta Valley Water District as an apprentice utility worker. His duties included meter reading, said Dennis Erdman, general manager of CVWD.
Welch was let go by the water district in 2006 due to “a reduction in force,” Erdman said.
“There were no issues or complaints filed during his employment,” he added.
But there seemed to be issues after he left the water district.
Sgt. Ray Harley of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station confirmed that a call for service at CVWD was made to the station on July 18, 2007.
“An employee had a restraining order against this individual and apparently someone had seen him outside [the district office],” Harley said.
There were no other reports at the sheriff’s station regarding the water district and Welch.
“The Crescenta Valley station did receive a call concerning the address on Lasheart Drive [prior to the murder/suicide],” said Lt. Dave Dolson, L.A. County Sheriff homicide.
“On Oct. 15 at 3 a.m. a call came into the station to assist a citizen in retrieving property from the location on Lasheart Drive,” Harley said.
“The call was made by Welch and according to the report it appeared to be a landlord/tenant situation,” Harley said.
Although even that definition of the pair’s relationship is unclear.
“She was not the [building’s] landlady,” Dolson said.
The mystery of why Welch did what he did may never be solved. The only thing for certain is a woman has lost her life, a child is without her mother and those left behind must cope with never knowing what drove this man to do the unthinkable.