Stanford engineering student, San Diego State student found dead in Walnut Creek

July 22, 2015, 10:00 p.m.

An engineering student at Stanford and a freshman at San Diego State were found dead early Tuesday morning in a Walnut Creek home in what police said appears to be a murder-suicide.

Clare Orton, a 19-year old majoring in environmental engineering at San Diego State, and Scott Bertics ’16, a 21-year old Lafayette resident who is currently on leave of absence from Stanford, were found dead with gunshot wounds in Orton’s parents’ Walnut Creek home off Homestead Avenue.

Police were called to the home on Holton Court at around 6:50 a.m. on Tuesday where they found the two dead. Police say the shooting occurred at the front door and happened quickly, so there was little family members could do to stop it. Bertics allegedly shot Orton and then took his own life, according to police. Police also said that the two knew each other and had dated.

Orton had graduated from Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek in 2014 and Bertics from Acalenes High School in Lafayette in 2012. Both were interested in engineering and both were long distance track runners in high school.

Orton had been visiting her home for the summer break and was an honors student at San Diego State, neighbors said.

Bertics last attended Stanford in the fall of 2014 before he took his leave of absence. Stanford’s website lists Bertics as a member of a team that worked on a project called “Controlling Robot Dynamics with Spiking Neurons” in 2013, and is also credited for developing the driver interfaced in a 2014 project titled “Controlling Articulated Robots in Task-Space with Spiking Silicon Neurons.”

“Two young adults like this, I wouldn’t say this if this wasn’t true, but these were two upstanding citizens,” said Walnut Creek police Lt. Lanny Edwards. “There weren’t red flags. There weren’t drugs, or anything like that involved.”

Police say they do not think there are any suspects at large and there is no threat to the community.

Police say there were no previous disturbances or restraining orders. Neighbors said Bertics had suffered from emotional distress over a previous relationship.

Greg Boardman, the Vice Provost for Student Affairs, said in an email to Stanford students that a broad network of campus support services are available for students, including Counseling and Psychological Services.

Walnut Creek police would like to hear from anyone who might have information about what happened. They can be reached at 925-943-5844.


Contact Andrew Choi at andrewyoonchoi ‘at’

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