Mother shot, killed protecting children

July 18, 2020

For The Madera Tribune

Julio “Jay” Martinez Garay, 49, of Chowchilla, was arrested on charges of homicide Tuesday night after allegedly ambushing and shooting his estranged wife multiple times as she loaded their three small children into her minivan after a medical appointment.

A Chowchilla woman attempting to escape a marriage involving several incidents of domestic violence was shot multiple times Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of Camarena Health Center on Almond Avenue by her estranged husband, according to the Madera Police Department. She died a short time later at the hospital. 

 

32-year-old Calley Jean Garay was loading her three small children, all under 6, into her white minivan after a visit to the medical clinic when she was ambushed by her husband, 49-year-old Julio ‘Jay’ Garay, also of Chowchilla. 

 

She was found lying over her boys, mortally wounded and still trying to shield them. Camarena medical personnel rushed out and tried to help her after the shooting stopped. The children were traumatized, but uninjured, and taken into care for counseling by medical staff.  

 

Madera Chief of Police Dino Lawson said the senseless and tragic act of domestic violence had shocked the community — residents, police and first responders alike. 

 

“This is despicable,” said Lawson to news crews. “I can’t think of anything more horrific than to do something like this — a cold-blooded act in front of the mother’s children. The mother, being a mother, sacrificed her own life, and laid across the bodies of her children to save them.”

 

“Camarena Health is deeply pained by this horrific event,” said Camarena Health Chief Execcutive Officer Paolo Soares in a statement. There are no words to convey the depth of sadness that we feel and are heartbroken for this heroic mother whose life was tragically cut short. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Camarena Health family are with her children and family during this devastating time.”

 

Julio Garay, 6 feet tall, 230 pounds, fled the scene in his pickup truck after the shooting and was found Tuesday night about 120 miles away, hiding at a motel in the coastal town of Marina, where he was arrested and returned to Madera on charges of homicide.

 

Calley Jean Garay had reportedly sought an order of protection in May of this year after a previous incident of domestic violence and was living apart from her husband with her children at an undisclosed location. 

 

It is not yet known how Julio Garay knew of his wife’s whereabouts or of her appointment at the medical clinic. Julio Garay was out on bond and under a previous restraining order and was prohibited from legally owning or carrying the handgun he used to shoot and kill his wife, according to police. 

 

Records show one additional arrest for Garay for domestic violence with bodily injury to a spouse and a child in July of 2015. 

 

Stepson Julio Garay, Jr, 29, spoke to news crews on Wednesday and called his stepmother Calley Jean Garay a hero for her actions protecting in her children. “She was a brave and wonderful mother, the best a child could probably have. But that was cut short.  She was brave and had always promised she would protect her boys to her last breath and that’s exactly what she did. She had finally built up the courage to go ... she was so happy ... she had just gotten free ... of the situation,” Garay Jr. said while fighting back emotion. 

 

Garay Jr. also encouraged everyone, including the legal system to please take incidents of domestic violence more seriously. 

 

Anyone with knowledge of or concerns about domestic violence should contact the Madera Police Department dispatch number at 675-4220. The line is answered 24/7. Officers encourage victims to reach out and say resources are available to assist victims of domestic violence and their children, and no one should suffer domestic abuse in silence. 

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