A terrifying 70-mile crime scene: Wild pursuit, freeway gun battle end in father, daughter dead
Authorities had been looking for Anthony Graziano and his teenage daughter Savannah for nearly 24 hours when his Nissan Frontier pickup was spotted Tuesday morning near Barstow.
Graziano was a suspect in the killing of his estranged wife, and authorities had issued an Amber Alert for his daughter, fearing for her safety.
San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies located the pair near the junction of Highways 395 and 58 and gave chase. It was the beginning of a 70-mile pursuit punctuated by wild gunfire that ended with both father and daughter dead.
Teen girl killed with father in freeway shootout may have fired at deputies, sheriff says
“Evidence suggests that Savannah Graziano was a participant in shooting at our deputies,” the San Bernardino County sheriff said Wednesday.
Deputies tried to pull the truck over but faced repeated incoming fire, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said.
“The suspect immediately starts firing at our deputies, putting several rounds through the windshield of the patrol unit,” he said, adding a patrol car was disabled by gunfire.
It’s unclear how many rounds were fired, and Dicus said investigators were going through multiple miles of what was considered a crime scene.
Authorities said Wednesday that two search warrants served at a home and storage facility linked to Graziano resulted in the seizure of “numerous” AR-15 style rifles, handguns, ammunition, smoke grenades, “survivalist gear” and body armor. The weapons were legally owned, police said.
Also Wednesday, Dicus announced that “evidence suggests that Savannah Graziano was also a participant in shooting at our deputies,” but he did not provide details.
Dicus said Graziano continued to fire at pursuing deputies as he drove into Hesperia. It was near Main Street that Graziano went off road and law enforcement tried to contain the 45-year-old near an offramp.
Video from a bystander captured some of the chaos as deputies took cover on the overpass ahead, and shot after shot after shot could be heard.
During the gun battle, the passenger — later identified at 15-year-old Savannah — ran out toward deputies wearing body armor and a tactical helmet and was shot, Dicus said. Her father was also found dead in the driver’s side of the truck, with an AR-15 style rifle nearby, authorities said.
Whether Savannah was armed as she ran toward deputies remains unclear. Sheriff’s officials have confirmed they retrieved a rifle from the truck, but declined to say whether any other weapons were retrieved. On Wednesday, Dicus said the department was referring the investigation to the California Department of Justice to see if it met the requirements of AB 1506 — which requires the state agency to investigate officer-involved shootings of unarmed civilians.
That could suggest Savannah was unarmed at the time of her death, but officials say only that if the investigation meets the requirements of the bill, the state agency will take over the investigation.
Authorities say Graziano had been on the run since Monday morning, after he shot and killed his wife, Tracy Martinez.
Witnesses heard the sound of more than a dozen gunshots ripping through the morning air on the quiet Fontana street steps away from an elementary school.
Fontana police said he shot her multiple times and left her for dead, then fled in his truck.
“I thought it was firecrackers,” said Juan Moreno, 59, who lives with his wife in the house next door to the shooting. “She peeked out the window and saw the guy going backwards [reversing his truck] real fast.”
The couple were estranged and going through a divorce, said Fontana Sgt. Christian Surgent, but police had not previously been called to the home for domestic or violent incidents.
Court records show no divorce proceedings had been filed by either Martinez or Graziano.
After Martinez’s killing, Graziano fled and authorities believed he took his 15-year-old daughter with him.
What Fontana police detectives didn’t know at the time was that Savannah had decided at some point in the last month to live with her father instead of her mother and younger brother, jumping from local motels and hotels to living in the truck and camping in local parks, Surgent said.
The two appeared to be prepared to camp out at parks in the area.
In Fontana, neighbors and relatives of Martinez were trying to come to terms with what happened.
Four family members arrived outside her home Wednesday morning and declined to comment.
Before the violence, the entire family used to visit a church in Hesperia.
“The whole family would come in,” said Greg Pounds, senior pastor at Connecting Point Church in Hesperia. “We’ve known them for many years. We’re still trying to piece all the info together.”
Pounds said they had left his church and were most recently attending services in Rialto.
“Our community is just as shocked as everybody else,” he said. “We’re trying to take it all in moment by moment as well.”
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