SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. – A San Bernardino County jury has found Kenneth Scott Welch of Redlands, California, guilty of all crimes and allegations he was charged with as a result of a 2017 shooting spree in Rialto, Highland, and Hesperia that left one victim dead, and three others injured.


March 14, 2017, Welch began his rampage when he pulled up next to a motorist on the westbound 210 freeway in Rialto and fired one shot into the rear passenger side of the car, striking an occupant in the leg. After the first shooting, Welch exited the 210 freeway, turned around and entered the eastbound 210 freeway. Welch then pulled up next to second motorist and opened fire on their vehicle. Welch fired four times, striking the second victim once in the arm. With complete disregard to the well-being of his victims. Welch drove back to his home after the second shooting.

At approximately 10:00 a.m. the next day, the defendant followed a motorist exiting the 210 freeway in Highland. The motorist realized he was being followed and pulled over on Sixth Street in Highland. The motorist, Mario Anthony Figueroa exited his vehicle and Welch pulled up next to him. The two spoke for approximately thirty seconds before the Welch fired a single shot at Mr. Figueroa’s head, killing him instantly. With callous disregard to human life, Welch left Mr. Figueroa lying deceased on the side of the road.

After killing Mr. Figueroa in cold blood, Welch continued his rampage into the night. Welch went to a Chevron gas station in Hesperia, took several items, and began walking out without paying. As the gas station clerk tried to stop him, Welch verbally threatened and punched him, leading the clerk to call 911 for help.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Higgins responded to the location, interviewed the clerk, and reviewed surveillance video showing the robbery, Welch and his vehicle.

As Deputy Higgins began driving away from the gas station when he saw Welch driving back into the parking lot. As the deputy approached Welch’s vehicle, he instructed the defendant to exit the car, commands which Welch disregarded, refusing to exit his vehicle.

Deputy Higgins reached for and discharge his pepper spray when Welch pulled out a firearm and opened fire on the deputy. He fired three shots at close range, striking the deputy once in his side, hitting his protective vest. Welch continued to fire seven more times directly at Deputy Higgins as he retreated to take cover behind his patrol vehicle. The bullets struck Higgins’ patrol unit within feet of his body and head.


After the violent encounter, Welch fled the scene and returned to his home in Redlands. Detectives were able to positively identify Kenneth Welch as the suspect, and took him into custody the next morning. Welch, a felon with a prior conviction, had a fully loaded and customized Glock 17 firearm on his person at the time he was taken into custody.

Initially, Welch waived Miranda and denied any involvement in the crimes. However, he eventually admitted to being responsible for the freeway shootings, the murder, the robbery, and the shooting of Deputy Higgins.


Welch made odd statements relating to his motive. He stated that he believed the motorists on the freeway were harming women and that they had signaled him for help. He also stated that the murder victim had been waiving to him to follow him and that “a lot of strange things have been happening right now.”

Welch stated that he went to the Chevron, in part, because he believed his credit card information had been stolen there two days earlier. He further stated that he believed that Deputy Higgins was a civilian dressed as a police officer and that is why he did not follow his commands and fired at him.

Welch stated that he has a history of schizophrenia, hallucinations, and head injuries.

He testified that he heard voices through his car radio telling him to follow certain people and he thought his parents were in danger at the time.

In his testimony, Welch stated that he was high on methamphetamine each day of criminal activity, which detectives confirmed through a blood draw that was done after their interview.

The defense called a psychologist who opined that the defendant suffered from various mental diseases and methamphetamine induced disorders.

On cross examination however, Welch admitted that he played video games daily under the influence of methamphetamine and in the same mental state as he was at the time of the crimes. He admitted that in those video games he would routinely intentionally kill, weigh the consequences for and against pulling the trigger, and would decide to kill the other characters in his game, before he did it.

Thus, he admitted he was capable of willful, deliberate and premeditated murder while high, and in the mental state he was in at the time of the crimes.


After only thirty minutes of deliberation, reviewing the facts of the case, and the arguments of prosecution and defense, a jury of twelve came back with a verdict of guilty of all charges.

PC 187 -First Degree Murder plus special circumstances, PC 664/187 – Attempted Murder of a Police Officer, two counts of PC 246 – Shooting at an Occupied Motor Vehicle, PC 211 -2nd Robbery, and special allegations of PC12022.53(d) Discharge of a Firearm – Causing Great Bodily Injury, and PC29800(a)(1) Felon in Possession of a Firearm were all found to be true.

As of June of 2022, in response to the rise of mass shootings, homicides and alarming number of illegal guns confiscated by every law enforcement agency in San Bernardino County, District Attorney Jason Anderson enacted a policy specific to Felons in Possession of a Firearm, PC 29800 and Felon in Possession of Ammunition, PC 30305.

As of June 27th, the offer set forward by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office will be state prison for any felon in possession of a firearm. The charge holds a state prison term in the range of sixteen months, two, or three years, dependent upon the facts of the case. The expectation is any exceptions to state prison offers should be rare.

“The random acts of violence perpetrated by this defendant throughout our county were abhorrent” said Deputy District Attorney Justin Crocker, the prosecutor in People v. Welch. “Former Deputy Higgins’ bravery and courage in the face of danger was remarkable and likely saved lives. I am thankful the jurors saw through the defendant’s testimony and delivered justice to the victims of these tragedies.”

DDA Crocker adds “Welch is an example of the type of criminal the special circumstance laws are designed to punish and remove from society.”


Welch is due back in court on Aug 5, 2022 for sentencing. His maximum sentence would be life in prison without the possibility of parole.