California police investigation killed teen’s role in deadly shooting
LOS ANGELES –
A Southern California man suspected of murdering his estranged wife and kidnapping their 15-year-old daughter had been living with the teenager in his pickup truck and hotel for weeks before the violence , authorities said Wednesday.
Anthony John Graziano and his daughter, Savannah Graziano, were killed Tuesday in a shootout with law enforcement on a highway in the high desert east of Los Angeles following a 45-mile chase. (72 km). Shots were fired at officers from the pickup truck as it was being pursued.
When stopped, police said, the girl, wearing a tactical helmet and vest, was out and running towards the delegates amid a hail of guns.
Police said the only weapon recovered at the scene was an assault rifle in the truck where Anthony Graziano died. There is police video of the shooting that authorities are looking into.
While many questions remain regarding Tuesday’s gunfight, police in Fontana – where Graziano’s wife, Tracy Martinez, was killed Monday – have provided some details about the family’s life before when bleeding.
Anthony Graziano had moved out of the family home a month or two before the murder, because of divorced couple, Fontana Sgt. Christian Surgent told The Associated Press. Savannah Graziano left with her father, while her younger brother stayed with their mother.
Police issued an Amber Alert after Martinez was killed, saying that Savannah Graziano had been kidnapped by her father. Now, detectives are trying to determine if she was forced to leave Fontana.
“Is she willing to go?” Surgent said. “Or was she really kidnapped? We can’t prove it yet.”
Fontana police had not received any reports of domestic violence at home before this week, Surgent said, and childcare services were not involved with the family either. Neither father nor mother was on probation or parole at the time, and investigators believe Savannah was being homeschooled while she lived with her father, who police said liked to camp in the desert and mountains in his pickup truck.
On Monday, witnesses saw Martinez walking in Fontana when Graziano picked her up in his truck. Surgent said it was not clear if she was forced into the car or inside herself.
“And immediately that’s when they started arguing and shouting and domestic violence happened,” he said.
Martinez got out of the truck and Graziano opened fire with a shotgun, striking her multiple times, Surgent said. A shooting in the street near an elementary school during the morning dismissal forced students and parents to get under cover.
Graziano fled and drove to Savannah, who could have been wherever they had been that day, Surgent said. The son was at the family home at the time and was not involved.
The next day, a 911 caller reported seeing the suspect’s Nissan Frontier around Barstow, nearly 70 miles (112 km) north of Fontana.
Law enforcement located the pickup truck and chased it down the highway to Hesperia. Throughout the pursuit, Graziano “repeatedly returned fire to deputies” with a rifle through the back window of the truck, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Tuesday at a news conference.
Dicus said there were “some indications” that Savannah had fired on deputies during the chase but did not provide any details.
A shootout in Hesperia ensued when the truck veered off course and somehow became disabled, with dozens of bullets flying. Savannah ran towards the delegates – who didn’t realize it was her – in the chaos and descended amid gunfire. She was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly before noon.
Her father was found in the driver’s seat and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Sheriff’s Department declined to release any additional information on Wednesday.
Associated Press writer Amy Taxi in Orange County, California, and News Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed.