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Gunman kills woman, self near IE courthouse

January 4, 2012 12:04:13 AM PST
A man fatally shot a woman outside the Riverside County Courthouse in Hemet on Wednesday morning, and then drove off and shot himself in the head, police said.

Authorities say the gunman, identified as 54-year-old Ralph Costales, was found dead in his car in the area of Devonshire Avenue and Meyers Street.

The courthouse at 880 N. State St. handles family issues, hearing a lot of contentious cases. Court records showed Costales was going through a divorce, and a hearing on custody and support was on Wednesday.

Costales' son Raymond said his father was going through a tough divorce and had mentioned doing something like this, but no one thought he was serious.

"He was a good father, and he still provided for everybody. I'm just in shock right now," Raymond Costales said.

According to witnesses, Costales was seen arguing with his estranged wife, 37-year-old Aimee Schulz, as they left the courthouse. They say Costales then calmly walked up to Schulz's black SUV in the parking lot and fired three rounds inside.

"I heard two more shots, and I ducked because I knew what was going on then," said witness Kimberly Jones. "The guy ran to his car and got in, and I got out of my car and ran to hers, and she was slumped over her seat."

Schulz was declared dead inside her vehicle.

Costales fled the scene, but witnesses were able to give police a description of his vehicle. Officers spotted the vehicle and began following it, but a few miles from the courthouse, Costales pulled over and shot himself, police said. He was declared dead at the scene.

"I just knew he was distraught over the last couple of weeks, and so he kind of let me know that he was going through a divorce," Sund said.

The family said the couple had a 7-year-old daughter, but she was not at the courthouse at the time of the shooting. The victim's sister was in the SUV when Schulz was shot, but she managed to escape unharmed.