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TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – Tucson police say the suspect involved in a deadly shooting spree and house fire over the weekend has died. Authorities say 35-year-old Leslie Scarlett died on Wednesday as a result of his injuries. Another victim was also identified on Thursday.
According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Scarlett has a criminal history that includes a 2007 conviction for an attempted armed robbery. He was sentenced to six years and was released in August 2013.
Witnesses call Sunday’s incident terrifying. “A guy pulls up, stands in the middle of the street and starts shooting everybody point blank… anybody that he sees,” said witness Jessie Acuna.
Police released more details Monday about what Tucson’s police chief called “an extraordinarily complicated” situation, and also released video of police body-worn camera.
The incident involved three crime scenes, left one man dead, and five others hurt, including Scarlett. One woman also was found dead inside the house fire, which was found to be connected with the shooting scenes. She was later identified as 36-year-old Jennifer A Fells. She was found with gun shot wounds, authorities said.
“In shock, because you don’t expect something like this to happen right outside your front door,” said Acuna. “You go to a fire and try to be helpful and just somebody shows up and starts shooting. Really can’t come to terms with it. It’s senseless.”
Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus says it all started at 3:45 p.m. Sunday. Two things happened right around the same time. Fire crews were dispatched to fight a fire at a home, and an ambulance was dispatched to a nearby park for a medical call.
CRIME SCENE #1- The park
When the ambulance got to Silverlake Park, near the Quincie Douglas Community Center, police say Scarlett drove up in a silver SUV, got out, and approached the ambulance. Police say Scarlett pointed in the direction of the fire, and when the EMTs looked in direction of the fire, Scarlett fired multiple shots through the driver’s side window. The EMT who was in the driver’s seat was shot in the head. The EMT in the passenger seat was shot in the arm and chest, but was able to call for help. Both were later taken to the hospital
“We can confirm that two American Medical Response (AMR) caregivers were shot as they were posting for an emergency call in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday. One of our EMTs is in very critical condition in the ICU. Another EMT suffered non-life-threatening but serious injuries and is also in the hospital,” according to a statement from a spokesperson for AMR.
CRIME SCENE #2- House fire
Meantime, a fire was burning at a nearby home. As firefighters arrived and began to fight the flames some neighbors gathered at the scene and were trying to help with the effort. That’s when police saw the same suspect from the park shooting. Police say he opened fire. “He was just standing there in the middle of the street kind of nonchalantly reloading and just shooting at directions at anybody and anything,” said Acuna.
One neighbor was shot in the head and killed while trying to help. He has been identified as 44-year-old Cory Saunders. The chief says Saunders’ 11-year-old son witnessed the attack. Another neighbor was grazed by a bullet. And one firefighter was struck in the arm by a bullet. Scarlett then drove away from the scene.
CRIME SCENE #3 -The intersection
Moments later, and officer spotted the suspect driving near an intersection. Police say the suspect rammed into the officer’s car. The officer started to get out, and that’s when police say he opened fire on the officer. Chief Magnus says Officer Danny Leon, an 8-year veteran of the force, fired back striking and injuring the suspect.
“The shooter is down,” you can hear on a police radio call. The body-worn camera shown Monday shows video of officer who was rammed by Scarlett and then exchanged fire with him.
Here is the body cam video showing Tucson Police officer Danny Leon being rammed, and shooting the suspect. pic.twitter.com/AYwLXwk28g
— Mary Coleman KOLD (@Mary_reports) July 19, 2021
“This is highly tragic, really horrific with many unknowns,” says Chief Magnus.
When investigators were able to get into the home that was on fire they found a dead person inside. Police say the body was too badly burned to determine the identity of the victim. Chief Magnus said that at the time, there were also 3 children associated with the home who were unaccounted for. But it was confirmed by a Tucson police sergeant Monday morning that all of the kids have been found safe. Magnus said the mother of the three children is missing and presumed dead. “This is a really horrific incident and our hearts go out obviously to those who are concerned about their loved ones with more serious injuries. We just don’t know,” Magnus said.
***UPDATE***All children have been located alive. Details are still limited. Additional details to come. https://t.co/AS2aSWt3i0
— Sergeant Richard Gradillas (@SgtGradillas) July 19, 2021
“This was a horrific and senseless act of violence,” tweeted Tucson’s mayor Regina Romero Sunday evening. When speaking out Monday, she called Ofc. Danny Leon’s actions heroic and instrumental in saving lives. “He demonstrated incredible bravery.” She also called for an end to such violence in Tucson, and said what happened is an example of what first responders risk everyday.
“Police, fire, & EMS personnel can take nothing for granted in today’s environment,” tweeted Chief Magnus on Monday. “Situations can devolve rapidly and too many people are dangerously unpredictable & intent on doing serious harm. I appreciate all our first responders for taking the risks that come w/their jobs.”
Tucson Fire Dept. Chief Chuck Ryan called it “a dark day for Tucson.”
Police have released the following information about those involved:
- Tucson Fire Captain, minor injuries.
- 20-year-old EMT shot, extremely critical.
- 21-year-old EMT, stable.
- 44-year-old neighbor, Corey Saunders, deceased
- Neighbor, grazed by bullet, good condition.
- Burn & gun shot victim in home, Jennifer A. Fells, deceased.
- 35-year-old suspect, Leslie Scarlett, deceased
Chief Magnus said this incident should be a call to action and that first responders should not have to deal with being shot at. “If this incident isn’t a call to action, I don’t know what is.”
“The real question we should be asking is, how can we coordinate the work of our criminal justice and mental health systems to prevent these terrible attacks?” Chief Magnus continued. “Who are these ticking time bombs, and is there anything we can do working together instead of in silos to predict their level of risk? How does someone like the suspect in this case, a prohibited possessor even come to have a firearm? There are many unanswered questions right now, that need to be pursued further in the days to come.”
A candlelight vigil to honor the victims was held Wednesday evening.
Join us for a candlelight vigil in response to the shootings that killed two and wounded several others. Vigil will be on Wed. 7/21, 7pm at MSA Annex. For details, visit: https://t.co/onxDU8OwAL@Tucson_Police @TucsonFireDept #Tucson #community #vigil #support #HopeAndHealing pic.twitter.com/ldVItzV4QS
— Homicide Survivors, Inc. (@HSI_AZ) July 20, 2021
Our investigation continues into Sunday’s shootings/fire that left 2 dead, 2 critical, and 2 others injured. Complex case w/shootings at 3 scenes. Tucson PD officer responding to scene who was rammed & shot at by suspect managed to end rampage w/incredible adeptness and courage. pic.twitter.com/9J3dLFnftr
— Chris Magnus (@ChiefCMagnus) July 19, 2021
(1/3) I ask our entire Tucson community to join me in thinking about and praying for the victims of this afternoon’s fire and shooting by Silverlake Park, including first responders from AMR and the Tucson Fire Department. This was a horrific and senseless act of violence.
— Regina Romero (@TucsonRomero) July 19, 2021