Updated: 9:12 AM PDT, March 26, 2021
A California man allegedly stabbed his mother, a longtime employee of Pasadena City College, to death while was on a Zoom call with co-workers, and also killed his uncle. A colleague who witnessed the crime called the police, authorities said.
Robert Cotton, 32, was arrested on two counts of murder, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The victims, Carol Brown, 67, and Kenneth Preston, 69, were Cotton’s mother and uncle, said Lt. Barry Hall of the Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday. A motive for the stabbing was unclear, police said, The New York Times reported.
Officers responded on Monday to a call around 2:45 p.m. about a possible kidnapping in progress on the 3000 block of North Marengo Avenue in the city of Altadena. When police arrived, they found Preston dead in the driveway of the house. He had multiple stab wounds. Once inside the home, deputies found Brown deceased, according to the department statement.
A large hunting knife was found at the scene, the Times reported.
Investigators learned a vehicle belonging to one of the victims was missing from the residence. At some point, Cotton, 32, who lived at the home, returned to the scene with the missing vehicle and was detained, according to the sheriff’s department, NBC News reported.
A spokesman for the college did not release the names of the employees on the call, but said that four people were on the video call at the time of the attack, a report said.
Brown, who had been at Pasadena City College for 15 years, worked in financial aid and student services, Most recently, she served as the co-coordinator of the school’s Black STEM program, which provides opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to Black students through coaching and internships, according to a college spokesman, The New York Times reported.
Pasadena City College President Erika Endrijonas shared the news of the tragedy in a Facebook post and said that counseling services and resources would be made available to students and staff members.
“Yesterday afternoon our PCC family suffered a terrible loss,” Ednrigjonas said. “Dr. Carol Brown, who most recently served as a co-coordinator of the Black STEM program, was the victim of a violent crime where she and her brother lost their lives.”
Cotton, who worked as a security guard at some point, according to The New York Times, was being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. His bail was set at $2 million and is scheduled to appear at the Pasadena courthouse on Thursday, according to NBC Los Angeles.
Ednrigjonas said she was “completely shocked and horrified by what has happened,” a report said.
“More information about how we can come together in response to this tragedy and remember Carol will be forthcoming,” she said.