Police have identified the victims and the shooter in a fatal shooting Thursday of a Pima County officer, a neighbor and an employee of an apartment complex.
The Tucson Police Department said in a statement Friday afternoon that Constable Deborah Martinez-Garibay, 43, and an apartment employee identified as Angela Maria Fox-Heath, 28, were serving a notice of eviction to a tenant of the complex near East Lind Road. and North Kelvin Boulevard in Tucson when shots were fired.
The tenant of the apartment, identified as Gavin Lee Stansell, 24, opened fire when Fox-Heath and Martinez tried to contact him, according to Sgt. Richard Gradillas, spokesman for the Tucson police. Fox-Heath was found lying in the yard with gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead, police said.
Martinez was found inside Stansell’s apartment and was also pronounced dead by police.
Police say Stansell went to another apartment in the same complex before police arrived, where he also shot and killed a neighbor, identified by police as 25-year-old Elijah Miranda.
Stansell eventually took his own life, police said, and was found dead in his apartment by Tucson officers.
Martinez, appointed by the Pima County Board of Supervisors in March, is the first constable to die in the line of duty in decades, according to the Arizona Constables Association.
Tucson police said the investigation is continuing. Detectives have asked anyone with information to call 520-88-CRIME.
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It was 6:30 a.m. when Alberto Nido arrived at work on Friday. The neighborhood was quiet, he said. A “strange” stillness hovered over the Tucson neighborhood.
The neighborhood was usually bustling with a handful of joggers and bikers each morning, he said.
“It was just too quiet,” Nido said. “I just felt the tension, being so calm.”
As he spoke, Nido, an employee of Sabaku’s screen printing studio for 14 years, stood about 100 yards from the Lind Commons apartments, where a Pima County officer and three others had died the day before.
At the time of the shooting, Nido had exited the store, then ducked down as he heard a barrage of gunfire. The gunshots were so loud he thought they were coming from apartments near his work, he said.
It wasn’t until noon, when his colleagues left for lunch, that Nido learned that the shooting had taken place at the Lind Commons apartments.
The area near the complex is dotted with industrial enterprises, from auto repair shops to plumbing establishments. The majority of nearby houses stood behind metal fences and gates, many of which were adorned with a “No Trespassing” sign.
On Friday, a broken police tape remained attached to a barbed wire fence post in front of the compound. Its yellow plastic tail draped over the grass and loose gravel.
Employees of Delivery Doctors Movers, a moving company a block away, said they worked with Stansell.
Employees described Stansell as a quiet, polite guy who had worked at the company for six to nine months before quitting.
Joe Bracamonte, the company’s office manager, was working when he heard a loud chain of about 8 to 10 gunshots on Thursday morning.
“I was shocked,” Bracamonte said after realizing the shooter was his former colleague. “It wasn’t his character – I never would have imagined.”
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The number of evictions is rising as rents rise in Arizona and pandemic protections have disappeared for tenants. Chris Groninger, eviction expert and director of strategy for the Arizona Bar Foundation, said evictions can easily put officers in dangerous situations.
“Losing your home can be devastating. Emotionally charged situations, like evictions, have always put Mounties and other law enforcement in vulnerable positions — simply for doing their job,” Groninger said.
“What happened to Officer Martinez-Garibay and the other victims in Tucson is horrific and inexcusable.”
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Arizona agencies offer support and condolences
Martinez was the second constable involved in a shooting in two months, according to the constables’ association. The other constable survived.
“Our condolences to his family, friends, the Pima County Constable’s Office and the people of Tucson,” the association said in the statement.
Pima County Constable Thomas Schenek said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened and at a loss for words” following Martinez’s death.
“I have not been able to erase my thoughts from today’s tragic event, and my deepest thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues who loved him and will forever be missed,” Schenek said. He also offered his condolences to the other victims of the shooting.
Constables are elected officials responsible for enforcing county court orders. They evict people from their homes during evictions, serve protection orders and issue subpoenas.
The Pima County Constabulary Office released a statement Friday afternoon saying that although Constabularies know they are at risk when carrying out evictions in their local communities, Thursday’s deaths were ‘devastating’ .
“We all know that working as an Arizona police officer involves risk, but we conduct our business with care and professionalism and treat everyone we come in contact with with respect and dignity,” the office said. “Constable Martinez gave her life in this service and we honor her for her dedication to duty and public service.”
Pima County court officers and court staff also released a statement Friday afternoon mourning Martinez’s death while thanking her for her military service.
“Although recently appointed to Justice 8, Constable Martinez-Garibay was a dedicated public servant and a proud Tucsonian who carried out her duties to her country and her community with distinction,” the statement read. “A veteran of the United States Army who served for nearly twenty years, Constable Martinez-Garibay has dedicated her life to the citizens of Pima County both as an officer and through her selfless volunteer work with ‘non-profit organizations, helping veterans and their families.’
The Mounties office located in the Pima County Utilities Building at 240 N. Stone Avenue was scheduled to remain closed for the day. Members of the public were advised to file the documents with building security personnel by 5 p.m. Friday, or call the Mounties office and leave a message at 520-724-5442.
The Scottsdale Police Department also paid tribute Friday on social media.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Pima County Constable Deborah Martinez,” Scottsdale Police said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this most difficult time.”
Includes information from Catherine Reagor, Arizona Republic reporter.