Mother of 3 girls slain by father feared for their safety

Posted at 3:25 PM, March 2, 2022 and last updated 4:42 PM, July 5, 2023


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A mother of three children who were killed by their father at a Sacramento church had sought a restraining order out of fear for their safety, court documents indicate.

David Mora, 39, also fatally shot a male chaperone who was supervising a visit with his daughters Monday afternoon before taking his own life at The Church in Sacramento, a nondenominational Christian place of worship, officials said Tuesday.

In this undated photo provided by the Merced County Sheriff’s Office is David Mora, who was under a restraining order and not supposed to have a gun, allegedly fatally shot his three daughters, a chaperone and himself during a supervised visit with the girls at a California church, officials said Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Court documents paint a disturbing picture of verbal and physical abuse inflicted by 39-year-old David Mora on his girlfriend, who is the mother of their three daughters, one of whom would have turned 11 on Wednesday. (Merced County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Mora had been living at the church, Sacramento County sheriff’s Sgt. Rod Grassmann told KXTV-TV.

Mora’s estranged girlfriend had been with him for about 15 years but she sought a domestic violence restraining order against him last April, describing him in court documents as jealous and mentally unstable.

“He threatened to kill me if he ever caught me cheating. … He has choked me in the past,” the filing said.

Mora “said that he has not killed me because he would not know where to go with the children,” said the woman, whose name was withheld by The Associated Press because she was abused.

The woman also said he was hospitalized for a week in April after “expressing a desire to commit suicide.”

Mora, who also was identified as David Fidel Mora Rojas in court papers, was taken into custody for a mental health evaluation last April 17, and nine days later a temporary restraining order was granted. It banned him from possessing a gun or ammunition, and investigators were trying to discover how he obtained the weapon.

A five-year restraining order was imposed May 19. It stipulated Mora only have supervised visits with his daughters for up to four hours per week with a mutually agreed-upon chaperone. He also was required to take anger management courses.

A memorial for the three young girls, who were slain by their father at The Church in Sacramento, is seen outside the church in Sacramento Calif., Tuesday, March 1, 2022. David Mora, who was under a restraining order and not supposed to have a gun, fatally shot his three daughters, a chaperone and himself Monday during a supervised visit with the girls. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Authorities identified Nathaniel Kong as the chaperone for the visitation. Kong, 59, was shot to death at the church along with the three girls, ages 13, 10 and 9. Business records show Kong had been an executive in the church. Court records show that he served Mora with the May restraining order.

Sandi Davis said she was taking her dog outside when she heard a gunshot. She immediately let go of the leash and dropped to the ground to protect herself.

“Our church body is devastated and heartbroken by this senseless tragedy and we ask for continued prayer for the victims, their family and our faith community as we grapple with this unexpected loss and trust the Lord for His strength in our grief,” a church statement said.

The girls attended schools in the Natomas Unified School District in northwestern Sacramento. Counselors and chaplains were at the schools Tuesday to provide support.

“There are very few words that can give comfort right now for this unspeakable tragedy,” the school district said in a statement.

On Tuesday morning, a small memorial with flowers, balloons, stuffed animals, a candle and a piece of paper that read “Prayers for peace, may your souls rest” was set up outside the church.

The entrance to the parking lot at The Church in Sacramento, Calif., is shown on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. A man shot and killed his three daughters, their chaperone and himself during a supervised visit with the girls Monday at the church authorities said. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Faith Whitmore, chief executive of the Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center that provides services to victims of domestic abuse, said the girls’ mother sought help through the agency last April. A case manager and an attorney worked with her to obtain the restraining order.

“She came in, she needed crisis intervention, she needed resources, she needed help,” said Whitmore, who did not work directly with the woman.

Whitmore said their organization will now push for their other clients to have visits supervised by professionals, and they plan to seek funding to cover the costs.

Just a few days before the killings, Mora was arrested in Merced County, south of Sacramento. He was taken into custody on charges of resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and driving under the influence after he assaulted a California Highway Patrol officer.

“He was drunk and while they were arresting him — or trying to — he decided he wanted to fight and ended up with felony charges because he assaulted a CHP officer, causing injuries,” Deputy Daryl Allen, a spokesman for the Merced County Sheriff’s Office, told The Sacramento Bee.
Dazio reported from Los Angeles.