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Thread: A Shootout in Tucson
06-02-08, 03:59 PM #1
A Shootout in Tucson
Officer on life support after crosstown pursuit
4-year TPD veteran sustained head wound and is not expected to survive, Miranda says Two deputies also shot, but injuries considered to be non-life-threatening
By Brady McCombs and Alexis Huicochea
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.02.2008
A Tucson police officer was on life support and "very unlikely to live" after he was shot in the head Sunday during an hour-long, cross-town shooting spree, Tucson Police Chief Richard Miranda said.
Before officers brought the incident to an end on the road to Mount Lemmon, a man driving a red Ford Mustang convertible, dressed in camouflage and brandishing an assault rifle, had opened fire on law-enforcement officers at six locations spanning 20 miles, from Tucson's far Northwest Side to the far Northeast Side.
Tucson police Officer Erik Hite, 43, was critically injured in one of those shootouts and was on life support Sunday at University Medical Center, Miranda said. Hite is a four-year veteran of the department and a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Miranda said. He is the father of a baby girl who is not yet 1 year old as well as a grown son who serves in the military, Miranda said.
If Hite does not survive, he will be the first local law-enforcement officer killed in the line of duty since August 10, 2005, when Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Timothy D. Graham was killed after he and another man fell into traffic on Ajo Way as they tried to subdue another man. The last Tucson Police Department officer to die in the line of duty was Officer Patrick Hardesty, who was shot to death while chasing a hit-and-run suspect.
Two Pima County Sheriff's deputies — whose names were not released — also were shot Sunday and were taken to UMC with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, Miranda said. One of the two deputies continued chasing the suspect even after being shot in the shoulder, Miranda said.
According to authorities, the shooting spree began shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday when a man law enforcement identified as David Nickolas Delich, 25, fired into houses in the 8400 block of North Placita de la Manzana, near North Shannon and West Cortaro Farms roads. It ended more than an hour later and nearly 20 miles to the east, when officers stopped the suspect on Catalina Highway and arrested him.
This is how the events unfolded, according to Miranda and Rick Kastigar, Pima County Sheriff's bureau chief:
The 911 calls about a camo-clad man shooting into houses started coming into the Pima County Sheriff's Department at 9:49 a.m.
As deputies arrived, the suspect fled in a 1988 red Ford Mustang. Nobody was injured in the initial shootings.
A sheriff's deputy spotted the suspect a few miles away, at North Oracle Road and West Magee Road, and began chasing him. Near Oracle and West Ina Road, the suspect fired, hitting the deputy in the right shoulder.
Despite being hit, the deputy continued the chase south on Oracle but lost track of the suspect near Oracle and West River Road.
Deputies working on the East Side picked him up again near East River and North Swan roads. A chase continued with several officers trailing the red Mustang, including Tucson police officers who got involved after seeing the suspect near Udall Park.
As they drove east on East Tanque Verde Road, the suspect fired at officers three times: at Tanque Verde bridge and East Wrightstown Road; at Tanque Verde and North Castle Rock Drive; and Tanque Verde and North Jeanette Avenue.
No one was hit.
Farther ahead, west of North Houghton Road on Tanque Verde, officers laid down stop sticks, Kastigar said. Before he hit them, Delich made an abrupt left turn, heading north on to a side street called North Tomahawk Trail, Kastigar said.
At 10:27 a.m., as Tucson police officers approached, Delich shot Officer Hite, hitting him once in the head, Miranda said. The shooter's move at this spot was calculated, Miranda said.
"From what preliminary information I have, I'm going to say it bluntly that Officer Hite was ambushed," Miranda said. "There was some thought behind what the shooter did."
Hite was flown by helicopter to University Medical Center.
Delich was able to flee again after shooting Hite and headed north up Catalina Highway, Kastigar said. They found him again driving up Catalina Highway on the way to Mount Lemmon. At milepost 1.5, he shot at a deputy, grazing him in the head.
At about 11 a.m., more than an hour after the incident began, Delich pulled off the road near the Molino Basin campground and gave up. He was arrested and taken into custody.
Investigators don't know why Delich went on the shooting spree, but Miranda said preliminary information indicates the houses he fired at and the officers he shot were not targeted, but rather random targets.
They found several weapons and large amounts of ammunition in the Mustang, he said. They characterized the weapon he used as an assault rifle but declined to name the exact type. They haven't estimated yet how many rounds he fired.
Some of his shots came from inside the Mustang, and others were fired from outside the car, Miranda said. The three law-enforcement officers who were struck were in their vehicles at the time, he said.
Pima County Sheriff's records show the department has had contact with Delich in the past, Miranda said, but Tucson police have not. Former classmates said he attended Sabino High School, and Miranda said he still has a Pima County address.
A background check shows that Delich has been arrested on criminal trespassing, a marijuana violation and possession of drug paraphernalia. He has not spent any time in Arizona prisons.
Pima County Sheriff's deputies, the lead investigators, were serving search warrants on Delich's vehicle Sunday and gathering evidence from the multiple crime scenes.
"This investigation is going to take a while, and we are going to have to piece together information to really get behind what the motivation was," Miranda said.
They don't know yet what Delich will be charged with, Miranda said. It's also unknown if officers returned fire on Delich during the pursuit.
Police don't have any reports of residents or motorists who were injured during the hour-long chase, Miranda said. They did receive phone calls about shots being fired as the pursuit passed by.
"I assume that people who live in the area were hearing the gunfire and as we all know, bullets can go anywhere," Miranda said. "So, even by accident, there could be some homes and businesses that might have received some damage."
The shooting spree and chase was a harrowing experience for people on Catalina Highway and at the shooting locations.
Jody and Don Mackey were biking up Catalina Highway near Molino Basin when somebody in a car told them to get out of there, and that somebody was shooting at people with a rifle, they said. Then, they saw 20-25 officers speed up the highway.
"You knew something horrible was happening," said Jody Mackey of Tucson.
They sped back down the mountain on their bikes.
"It was scary, it was horrifying," Jody Mackey said.
Gab and Nolan Illanas heard the gunshots from their house in the Tanque Verde Woods subdivision, just east of where Hite was shot. The children saw police officers speed off after the Mustang after the shots were fired.
Nolan, 10, went outside to see what was going on and saw a police officer in his car at the entrance to the neighborhood. "We were, like, really scared," Nolan said.
Their mother, Sheree Illanas, said the children were unharmed but shaken.
"It's always quiet here," said Judy Harris, who lives in the same neighborhood. "So that was pretty scary."
It was a difficult day emotionally for law enforcement as well.
"As police chief, my ultimate responsibility is protection of my police officers," Miranda said at a news conference Sunday. "When something like this happens, I have a definite and sincere feeling of responsibility because these officers go out every single day and put their lives on the line. … I feel absolutely terrible."
1. At 9:49 a.m., a man dressed in camouflage fires shots into houses in the 8400 block of North La Placita de la Manzana. No one is injured. The suspected shooter, David N. Delich, flees in a 1988 red Ford Mustang convertible.
2. After spotting him at Oracle and Magee, a Pima County Sheriff's deputy begins chasing Delich. Near Ina and Oracle, the shooter fires at the deputy with an assault rifle, hitting him in the right shoulder. The deputy continues the pursuit but loses sight near Oracle and River roads.
3. Deputies working on the East Side spot the suspect near Swan and River. The chase continues with several officers trailing the red Mustang, including Tucson police officers who got involved after seeing the suspect near Udall Park.
4. As they follow the suspect east on Tanque Verde, he fires shots back at the officers on Tanque Verde Road bridge and Wrightstown Road. The shots don't hit anybody.
5. The shooter fires shots at officers at Tanque Verde and Castle Rock that don't hit anybody.
6. The suspect fires another round at officers at Tanque Verde and Jeanette. Nobody is hit.
7. Officials regroup and lay out strategies. West of Houghton Road on Tanque Verde, officers lay down stop sticks. Before the vehicle hits them, the driver makes an abrupt left turn heading north onto a side street called Tomahawk Trail. At 10:27 a.m., as Tucson police officers approach, the suspect shoots Officer Erik Hite, hitting him once in the head. Hite is flown to University Medical Center.
8. Deputies find the suspected shooter again on Catalina Highway on the way to Mount Lemmon. At Milepost 1.5, he shoots a deputy, grazing him in the head and causing non-life-threatening wounds.
9. At 11 a.m. — more than an hour after it began — the suspected shooter pulls off the road near the Molino Basin campground and gives up. He is arrested without incident and taken into custody.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or email@example.com.
http://www.azstarnet.com/metro/241816Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
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06-02-08, 04:16 PM #2
Thoughts and prayers to all three officers.
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06-02-08, 11:06 PM #3
I was at a class today, taught by a former Tucson officer, and he told us about this call.
Thoughts and prayers en-routeMolly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
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06-02-08, 11:16 PM #4
That sucks about the officer with the head wound especially. What a damn shame. I hope that son of a bitch rots in hell. Does Arizona have the death penalty? I hope so, no need to let him stay in prison and waste perfectly good oxygen.Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American G.I.
One died for your soul, the other for your freedom. ~ Anon
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RIP Scott L. Roth- Pfc 1st Platoon,401st MP Co, KIA 12/20/89- Operation Just Cause- Not forgotten.
06-02-08, 11:30 PM #5
Suspect is severely crazy in the head. Hopefully the courts don't see it that way and fry his ass.
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