‘We didn’t see it coming,’ says father of shooter in Concord murder-suicide — (The Mercury News)

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The Mercury News

By Robert Salonga, Contra Costa Times

Posted: 01/13/2009 04:00:00 PM PST

CONCORD ­ – A man who shot his wife to death and then killed himself was clearly troubled but showed no signs he was headed toward such a violent end, his father said Tuesday.

Jason Montes, 33, of Concord was found dead Sunday evening in a North Concord home alongside his gravely wounded wife, Serena Montes, 25, who died later that night.

The father, Angel Montes, said he was with his son in the father’s Sacramento home hours before the killings and did not notice anything out of the ordinary.

Montes described his only child as a mellow personality who was coming to grips with a looming divorce from Serena Montes. His sentiments fall in line with those of his daughter-in-law’s family, who also said the violence was unexpected.

“This was not the son we raised and who grew up in the house,” Montes, 61, said. “We didn’t see it coming. We’re completely devastated.”

The elder Montes said his son rarely let his family know his feelings, but that he had grown enamored with the woman who became his wife, Serena Lesley, after a chance online meeting. They were married in September 2007.

“He really fell in love with her,” he said. “We could see that from the get-go.”

But by some point last summer, the two were growing apart, according to family on both sides of the marriage. That coincided with Jason Montes filing for bankruptcy.

In the shooting’s aftermath, Angel Montes said he has been learning that his son had become troubled during the past year and had twice threatened suicide. For a spell, the junior Montes was seeing a psychiatrist and taking Prozac to treat symptoms of depression, his father said.

Jason Montes grew up in the Sacramento area, graduated from Florin High School and then moved to Pacifica so that he could attend the Art Institute of California-San Francisco, where he studied graphic design, his father said. He went to work for a while for a Web consulting firm in Redwood City and was looking to eventually get a job in film animation.

Montes said his son had recently taken a job with the state but he was unclear what it was.

The day before he died, Jason Montes was in Sacramento watching a movie with friends at his parents’ house. The following morning, he ate breakfast, loaded his two Siberian huskies into his car and headed back to Concord, where he had moved so his wife could be closer to her family, who lived in the same neighborhood.

About 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jason Montes called a friend in Sacramento, saying he had just shot his wife and was going to kill himself. By the time word got to Concord police and officers entered the home, he was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and Serena Montes had been fatally wounded.

It was later learned that while in Sacramento, Jason Montes had taken a small-caliber pistol his father had acquired during his military days. It had never been fired until that evening.

Angel Montes said he is not absolving his son, but instead is holding on to the memory of the person he knew: the science-fiction fan and comic book collector who had a magic touch with computers and loved personal technology. “He’s still the same person I thought would never harm somebody else or himself,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what went wrong.”

Reach Robert Salonga at 925-943-8013 or rsalonga@bayareanewsgroup.com.