BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Kern County Coroner’s Office has identified the victim of a fatal assault at the Motel 6 on Oak Street as 51-year-old Christopher Kurt Rice of Frazier Park. The Bakersfield Police Department responded to a call regarding an assault at the motel on November 16, 2023, leading to the discovery of Rice, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect, 41-year-old Juan Paniagua, was arrested for charges associated with robbery, assault with a firearm, and murder.
According to authorities, the suspect allegedly pointed a gun at the victim and others, demanding property before assaulting Rice during a robbery at the motel. Police officers at the scene were able to gather information on the suspect and subsequently located and detained Paniagua in the 400 block of Oak Street. The arrest of the suspect marks a significant development in the ongoing investigation into the tragic incident at the Motel 6.
The motive behind the assault and subsequent robbery remains under investigation as authorities work to gather evidence and statements related to the case. The arrest of the suspect offers a sense of closure for the victim’s family and the local community, as law enforcement continues to ensure the safety and security of residents and visitors in Bakersfield. The tragic loss of Christopher Kurt Rice serves as a reminder of the importance of ongoing efforts to address and prevent violent crime in the city. The Bakersfield Police Department continues to urge anyone with information related to the case to come forward and assist in the investigation.