Police have identified the victims and the gunman in a fatal shooting on Thursday of a Pima County constable, a neighbor and an apartment complex employee.
The Tucson Police Department said in a statement released on Friday afternoon that Constable Deborah Martinez-Garibay, 43, and an apartment employee identified as Angela Maria Fox-Heath, 28, were serving an eviction notice to a tenant at the complex near East Lind Road and North Kelvin Boulevard in Tucson when shots were fired.
The apartment tenant, identified as 24-year-old Gavin Lee Stansell, opened fire when Fox-Heath and Martinez tried to contact him, according to Sgt. Richard Gradillas, a spokesperson for Tucson police. Fox-Heath was found lying in the courtyard with gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead, police said.
Martinez was found inside Stansell’s apartment and was also pronounced dead by police.
According to police, Stansell went to another apartment in the same complex before police arrived, where he also shot and killed a neighbor, identified by police as Elijah Miranda, 25.
Stansell ultimately shot himself, police said, and was found dead inside 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 was continuing. Detectives 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 Friday. The neighborhood was quiet, he said. An “eerie” stillness hung over the Tucson neighborhood.
The neighborhood usually stirred with a handful of joggers and bikers every morning, he said.
“It just felt too quiet,” Nido said. “I just felt the tension, being so quiet.”
As he spoke, Nido, an employee of Sabaku screen printing shop for 14 years, stood about 100 yards away from the Lind Commons Apartments, where a Pima County constable and three others had died the day before.
Around the time of the shooting, Nido had stepped outside of the shop, then ducked as he heard the a barrage of gunfire. The gunfire was so loud that he thought it came from the apartments next door to his work, he said.
It was only at noon, when his co-workers left for lunch, that Nido learned the shooting occurred at the Lind Commons Apartments.
The area near the complex is peppered with industrial businesses, from auto repair shops to plumbing establishments. The majority of the nearby houses stood behind metal fences and gates, many adorned with a “no trespassing” sign.
On Friday, broken police tape remained tied to a barbed-wire fence pole across the street from the complex. Its yellow plastic tail draped over grass and loose gravel.
Employees at Delivery Doctors Movers, a moving company about a block down the road, said they worked with Stansell.
Employees described Stansell as a quiet, polite guy who had worked at the business for six to nine months before quitting.
Joe Bracamonte, office manager of the business, was working when he heard a loud string of about 8 to 10 gunshots on Thursday morning.
“I was shocked,” Bracamonte said after realizing the shooter was his former co-worker. “It was not his character – I never imagined.”
The number of evictions are rising as rents increase in Arizona and pandemic protections have disappeared for tenants. Chris Groninger, eviction expert and chief strategy officer with the Arizona Bar Foundation, said evictions can easily expose constables to unsafe situations.
“Losing your home can be devastating. Emotionally charged situations, like evictions, have always put constables and other law enforcement agencies in vulnerable positions — simply for doing their jobs,” Groninger said.
“What happened to Constable Martinez-Garibay and the other victims in Tucson is horrifying and inexcusable.”
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Arizona agencies offer support, 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 her 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 he was “deeply saddened and at a profound loss for words” after Martinez’s death.
“I have not been able to clear my thoughts of today’s tragic event, and my heartfelt thoughts and prayers are extended for her family, friends and coworkers who loved and will forever miss her,” Schenek said. He also offered condolences for the other victims of the shooting.
Constables are elected officials charged with enforcing county court orders. They remove people from their homes during evictions, serve orders of protection and deliver subpoenas.
The Pima County Constables Office released a statement on Friday afternoon saying although constables know they face risks while conducting evictions in their local communities, Thursday’s deaths were “devastating.”
“We all know that the job of an Arizona Constable comes with risk, but we go about our business with caution and professionalism and treat all with whom we come in contact with respect and dignity,” the office said. “Constable Martinez gave her life in that service and we honor her for her dedication to duty and public service.”
The Constables Office located at the Pima County Public Services Building on 240 N. Stone Avenue was expected to remain closed for the day. Members of the public were advised to drop off paperwork with the building’s security staff before 5 p.m. Friday, or call the Constables Office and leave a message at 520-724-5442.
The Scottsdale Police Department also paid its respects 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 her family and friends in this most difficult time.”
Includes information from Arizona Republic reporter Catherine Reagor.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Tucson constable shooting: 3 victims, shooter identified