On Monday, police in Oceanside, about 40 miles from San Diego, said they were called to the home after the babysitter was greeted by 34-year-old David Anthony Strouth.
The sitter, 23-year-old Jessica Gandarillas, told police that when she started to run, she caught a glimpse into the garage, where she saw Strouth standing over Garner’s body.
“She told the dispatcher she saw one person covered in blood and another person down in the garage,” police said. “She thought two young children might still be in the house.”
When Strouth spotted her, Gandarillas said, he moved toward her; she fled and locked herself in her car. Strouth tried to get her to open the door, she told police, but Gandarillas sped away and called neighbors to tell them what had happened.
Two neighbors — one wielding a knife, the other a handgun — went to check on Garner and his children. They believed “someone in the house was gravely injured and that the children could be in mortal danger,” according to the statement from police.
When they arrived, they found Strouth standing in the garage, cutting his arms, Oceanside Police Lt. Leonard Cosby said.
It took five officers to subdue him. Police said Strouth made “several spontaneous admissions to the crime” before he was airlifted to Scripps Hospital in La Jolla with injuries that were not life-threatening, He was later arrested for homicide.
The two children — ages 2 and 4 — were not harmed. “Talk about good fortune,” Cosby told The Washington Post.
Garner was lying on the ground nearby. He had been stabbed in the neck and chest, police said. Neighbors tried to give him CPR, according to NBC San Diego, and police and firefighters tried to resuscitate him as well. But Garner died at the scene.
Cosby said Strouth had moved into the house two weeks ago with Garner and Garner’s ex-wife, Gerilynn Buchholz, 33, who is the children’s mother. Cosby said Buchholz was working as a waitress at a nearby hotel at the time of the attack. A third male who also lives at the house was not at home at the time of the stabbing.
“The interesting fact is that the victim and suspect had only known each other two weeks,” Cosby told The Post, adding that the two men were planning to move out and get a place together the next day. “As far as we know, there was no tension, no friction between them. … Totally weird, totally weird.”
Strouth’s arraignment is slated for Tuesday, Cosby said.