California family extremely relieved to find woman killed by deputies wrongly identified

Coroner identified woman shot as Maria Rodriguez

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - There were tears of joy after Sarah Bustamante walked through the doors of her mother’s house Monday morning.

The Kern County (California) Sheriff's Office said they misidentified the woman shot and killed , and the coroner's office has since identified the woman as 42-year-old Maria Rodriguez.

Bustamante's family was getting ready to have a car wash in her memory after the Kern County Sheriff’s Office told them she was dead Sunday morning. Now it is known that Rodriguez was mistaken for the 32-year-old Sarah Bustamante.

“I really thought it was her, yesterday we did posters, we did candle-lights out there, this morning she walks up… and she’s alive,” Cousin Priscella Alvarez said tearfully.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said of the mix-up, "In this particular case I think we made some assumptions and took some leaps of faith that we should not have done. And so at the end of the day there's just no excuse. We just screwed this up."

Sunday morning around 4 a.m. three deputies shot Rodriguez, who was standing on top of a rock pile near Union Avenue and Elliot Street. Rodriguez was throwing rocks and yelling, KCSO said. She then pointed a gun at deputies and they fired.

Turns out the gun was a B.B. gun made to look like a real semi-automatic handgun.

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