TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A local Mountie, who was also a U.S. Army veteran, was among four people fatally shot at an apartment complex as a eviction notice has been served in Tucson, Arizona, officials said. The suspected shooter was also one of the dead.
The shooting happened just after 11 a.m. Thursday at the Lind Commons Apartments. Tucson Police Sgt. Richard Gradillas said authorities would release the identity of the shooter along with the names of the other two victims on Friday. He declined to comment further.
Few details have been released about the events leading up to the shooting, but Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has identified Pima County Constable Deborah Martinez-Garibay, 43, as one of the victims. .
An eviction complaint filed Aug. 15 by a landlord in Pima County Consolidated Court of Justice said a man renting the apartment where police say the shooting took place had previously threatened violence.
The complaint identified the man as Gavin Lee Stansell and said he or his guest threatened and intimidated neighbors with a gun on July 27.
Stansell did not appear for a hearing in the case scheduled for Monday, according to court records.
According to the records, a judge ruled that Stansell breached his rental agreement, writing, “Evidence shows that the defendant threatened another resident with a gun and otherwise disturbed the peace.”
Ducey ordered flags to be flown at half-mast in all state buildings on Friday in honor of the slain constable.
“The loss of Officer Deborah Martinez is felt across our state,” Ducey said in a Press release. “Whether serving in the United States military or serving as a constable for Pima County, she has dedicated her life to helping others and her community.”
Martinez-Garibay became a police officer for Justice Precinct 8 earlier this year, Ducey said. She was from Tucson “who will be remembered for the way she treated others with dignity and respect,” the governor said.
“It’s just unreal, for someone to do this to another person,” her husband, Gabriel Garibay, told the Tucson Sentinel Thursday. “I always try to put it together. It looks unreal, I still think it’s a joke somewhere, but that’s just a way to describe it. I do not know how to explain it.
At around 6 p.m. Thursday, Martinez-Garibay’s body was escorted out of the area by law enforcement officers, who formed a guard of honor. Police on motorcycles and other law enforcement vehicles lined up with flashing lights.
His Ford F-150 remained at the scene Thursday afternoon, with a small “Constable” sign on the door, the newspaper reported.
Martinez-Garibay enlisted in the US Army after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and toured Afghanistan several times before retiring after 16 years. After leaving the military, she volunteered at local nonprofits dedicated to veterans and their families, according to the governor’s press release.
Local media reported that an employee of the apartment complex was also killed in the shooting.
Residents of the apartment complex were evacuated but were later released back to their homes, media reported.
Sharon Bronson, Chair of the Pima County Board of Supervisors extended sympathies on behalf of the county to the family, friends and colleagues of Martinez-Garibay.
“I am heartbroken by this terrible tragedy and will keep Constable Martinez and all who knew and loved her in my thoughts,” she said in a statement.
Martinez-Garibay was appointed gendarme after the resignation of the previous one.
“When I deal with the people I have to deport, I understand it’s my responsibility, but they’re still people,” she said in March, according to the Arizona Daily Star. “The simple act of giving some basic dignity and respect can help these people rebuild their lives.”
Former Constable Kristen Randall had become frustrated with having to serve people with eviction notices without being able to help them stay in their homes.
“When a force for good can so easily be a force for pain and destruction, we should consider how this archaic position can better meet the needs of an evolving community,” Randall said in his February 13 resignation letter. .
Martinez-Garibay hoped to be elected to this position in the November elections. Under state law, Martinez-Garibay will be replaced in the November general election ballot by a candidate chosen by the Pima County Democratic Party, the Tucson Sentinel reported.
Giving eviction notices can be dangerous. On Monday, an Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office the deputy was shot and killed and a second deputy was injured while trying to serve eviction papers at a home near Oklahoma City, officials said.
Sheriff Tommie Johnson said the two deputies were served “lockdown papers”, which are part of the eviction process, when one of the deputies came to the back door of the house and was shot. The second deputy was shot while trying to get the first deputy to safety, Johnson said. A suspect in the Oklahoma shooting was taken into custody after leading law enforcement on a chase, officials said.
Evictions have increased across the country in recent months now that the early pandemic protections that kept millions of families housed have disappeared and housing assistance funds have dwindled.
Courts in Pima County, which includes Tucson, have already filed 6,937 eviction petitions this year, up slightly from the 6,899 filed for all of 2021. Eviction petitions have also increased in the Maricopa County in Arizona, home to Phoenix.
____ Associated Press writers Jacques Billeaud and Anita Snow in Phoenix and Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, Florida contributed to this report.