NewsCovering Kern County


Foothill stabbing suspects' family speaks out for the first time

Aunt says she gave her niece a knife to protect herself
Posted at 12:08 AM, Jan 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-26 03:08:39-05

BAKERSFIELD,Calif. — The family of two of the three suspects arrested in the Foothill High School stabbing is speaking out for the first time since the incident.

The stabbing took place on Tuesday, leaving 17-year-old Jose Flores dead.

Stephanie Benavides says she is the aunt to both 23-year old Jason Cruz and 17-year old Caitlyn, who police have charged with first-degree murder of Flores.

"I myself gave her a knife before and I said don’t let boys beat you up those were my instructions to her," Benavides said. "I was imagining her going like a tornado and hitting everybody. I wasn’t imagining her to actually take a life."

Benavides says that the two were escorting their 14-year-old cousin, who was not involved in the incident, to and from Foothill High School Tuesday, because he was jumped the Friday before.

"I know she was just protecting herself, she wasn’t trying to hurt people," Benavides said. "She was trying to keep from being hurt, there’s a difference."

Benavides tells 23ABC that her 17-year-old niece, who identifies as a lesbian, is not affiliated with any gangs.

Also, she never had any previous confrontations with Flores before that fatal day.

She does share that her niece had conflicts with other boys in their area, and she wanted her to be protected.

"When your baby comes home every day all beat up and she is saying she is being beaten up by boys I want her to protect herself," Benavides said. "I didn’t trust her with mace or a taser, but I did want her to protect herself. I never imagined in a million years it would go this far. I thought they would get sliced or get some stitches."

Benavides says she is not sure where the exact knives that were used in the incident came from, but if they are linked back to her collection she will take responsibility.

Also, she adds that no one expected any altercations to end in death or threats that their family has received.

"Now my family is being bullied and harassed," Benavides said. "They have put all of their personal information on Facebook and their pictures. They have had to move from the house because they are being harassed, stalked, threatened every day."

Benavides says she has not been in contact with police but says she is willing to, for the sake of her two loved ones.

23ABC also spoke with family members of Flores today, who say they are still seeking justice.

They were unable to speak on camera because they were in the process of making funeral arrangements.

Benavides has this message for the Flores family.

"I am sorry for the family, as well the whole incident, it's horrible and my heart does go out to them," Benavides said. "I can’t even imagine. I cry every day for that. I am so sorry that happened."

Cruz was scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment this past Friday, but it has been postponed because he is still recovering from his injuries.

Another 14-year-old boy who was stabbed was also arrested in this case, for assault with a deadly weapon.

Again if you have any further information on this case call KCSO at 861-31-10 or the Secret Witness Line at 322-4040.