Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood says the shootings began shortly before 5.30pm on Wednesday (10.20am Thursday AEST) at a business and a home in Bakersfield, about 145km north of Los Angeles.
"We have six deceased, one is the suspect and five are victims", said Lieutenant Mark King of the Kern County sheriff´s office said.
According to the sheriff: The suspect left the area and went to a residence and confronted two more people, where he shot both of them.
The woman whose vehicle was taken, and her child, were unharmed. They made it out safely and were able to escape from the vehicle, Youngblood said. He then shot his wife and another man - before he ventured into a nearby neighborhood and shot a married couple.
When confronted, he turned the gun on himself and was instantly killed.
Five people have been killed in a string of shootings in Bakersfield, California. He drove to a nearby highway where he pulled over into a parking lot when he saw a deputy.
When the deputy approached, "the suspect put the gun to his chest and killed himself", Youngblood said. The body camera video from the officer who confronted the shooter also needs to be examined.
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"The suspect killed himself", the sheriff said. "This is highly unusual", he said.
Police recovered a pistol at the scene, Youngblood said.
This is the new normal, if you look across the country.
Sheriff's deputies are interviewing some 30 people who witnessed the shootings.