Details emerge on pair killed in apparent-murder suicide

Police in Walnut Creek are continuing to investigate the Tuesday shooting deaths of two college students as an apparent murder-suicide.

Police said 21-year-old Lafayette native Scott Bertics shot 19-year-old Walnut Creek resident Clare Orton before taking his own life. The two had previously dated.

Orton was a Las Lomas High School graduate and captain on the school’s cross country team, according to the school’s newspaper, the Las Lomas Page.

She was home from college after finishing her freshman year at San Diego State University, where she was an honors student studying environmental engineering, university spokesman Greg Block said.

Orton’s Facebook page indicates that she was a member of Los Lomas High’s Eco Action Club and SDSU’s Society of Women Engineers. Today, one member of the society said the group was mourning the loss their fellow environmental engineer.

Madeleine Rasche wrote:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones.”

Bertics graduated from Acalanes High School in Lafayette, where he was also on the cross country team, and went on to attend Stanford University.

He enrolled in the fall of 2012, but took a voluntary leave of absence in the fall of 2014, university spokesman Brad Hayward said.

Bertics had not yet declared a major, according to Hayward, but he is listed on a 2013 demonstration called “Controlling Robot Dynamics with Spiking Neurons.” He’s also acknowledged in a paper titled, “Developing Articulated Robots in Task-Space with Spiking Silicon Neurons.” A YouTube channel bearing the name “sbertics” appears to be a repository for school-related videos and a winter vacation in Hawaii.

Officers responded at 6:50 a.m. on Tuesday to a home in the city’s north Homestead neighborhood on a report of shots fired, police said.

Officers arrived to find the pair dead from apparent gunshot wounds in the home where Orton lived with her family, according to police.

Although the investigation is ongoing, police said the initial evidence indicated it was a murder-suicide.

Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact Walnut Creek police at (925) 943-5844.