Hesperia Amber Alert: Sheriff says 15-year-old girl killed was shooting at deputies
HESPERIA, Calif. - The 15-year-old girl who was the center of an Amber Alert, reportedly fired at officers during a shootout in San Bernardino County, Sheriff Shannon Dicus stated.
Anthony John Graziano and his daughter, Savannah Graziano,15, were killed Tuesday in a shootout with law enforcement on the 15 Freeway near Bear Valley Road in the Victorville/Hesperia area.
Savanna was allegedly abducted by her father after authorities said he shot and killed the girl's mother during a domestic violence incident Monday in Fontana.
Family members told investigators the couple was going through a divorce.
Graziano led authorities on a pursuit Tuesday morning, firing at officers multiple times. The suspect vehicle eventually became disabled on the 15 Freeway and a shootout ensued between Graziano and the deputies.
According to San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus, the female passenger in the car, identified as Savanna, exited the vehicle wearing tactical gear and ran towards deputies. She collapsed on the way to the patrol vehicles.
RELATED: 15-year-old at center of Amber Alert killed in shootout between deputies, suspect on 15 Freeway
Deputies did not initially realize it was the girl who was running toward them, Dicus said, because she was wearing a helmet and a military-style vest that can hold armored plates.
On Wednesday, Dicus said there is evidence that shows Savanna was shooting at deputies.
Dicus did not specify whether Savanna was shot by responding deputies or her father. She was transported to the hospital where she later died. Graziano was also killed in the shootout.
While many questions remain regarding Tuesday’s gunbattle, police in Fontana — where Savanna's mom, 45-year-old Tracy Martinez, was killed — offered some details about the family’s life before the bloodshed erupted this week.
Graziano had moved out of the family’s home a month or two ago, as the couple went through a divorce, Fontana Sgt. Christian Surgent told The Associated Press. Savanna left with her father, while her younger brother stayed with their mother.
"Did she go willingly?" Surgent said. "Or was she actually abducted? We haven’t been able to prove that just yet." But police say there is no indication she was with her father by force.
Fontana police had not received any reports of domestic violence at the home before the mom's death, Surgent said, and child services had not been involved with the family. Neither parent was on probation or parole at the time and investigators believe Savanna was being home-schooled while she lived with her father, whom police said liked to camp out 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 whether she was forced into the vehicle or got in on her own.
"And immediately that’s when they started arguing and yelling and domestic violence was occurring," he said.
Martinez got out of the truck — potentially to escape — and Graziano opened fire on her with a handgun, striking her multiple times, Surgent said.
Graziano fled the scene and drove to get Savanna, who had been somewhere else at the time — likely wherever they had been staying that day, Surgent said. The son was at the family’s home at the time and was not involved.
The Department of Justice will take over the investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report