TPD: Tenant being evicted shot & killed neighbor, ap't manager & Pima Constable Martinez
Gavin Lee Stansell died when he shot himself after killing 3 others during Thursday incident
Gavin Lee Stansell shot and killed three people, including Pima County Constable Deborah Martinez, the apartment manager and a neighbor when he was being served with an eviction notice Thursday morning, police said, releasing the identities of the other victims. He then killed himself, police said.
Friday afternoon, the Tucson Police Department released further details on the deadly confrontation at an apartment complex on Tucson's North Side.
Martinez, 43, was shot and killed as she went to Stansell's apartment to serve an eviction notice along with 28-year-old Angela Fox-Heath, who worked as the manager of the apartment complex, said Sgt. Richard Gradillas, a TPD spokesman.
Stansell, 24, went into a neighboring apartment and fatally shot 25-year-old Elijah Miranda. Stansell then turned on the gun on himself and died from a self-inflicted gunshot, police said.
Around 11:13 a.m. Thursday morning, dispatchers received a call that shots had been fired at at Lind Commons, an apartment complex in the 3400 block of East Lind Road, Gradillas said.
TPD officers arrived and found Fox-Heath dead in the courtyard with "obvious signs of gunshot trauma," he said Friday.
Gradillas said police believe Stansell opened fire as Martinez and Fox-Heath went to contact him, fatally wounding Fox-Heath. Martinez was found inside the apartment by members of TPD's SWAT team, who arrived after police realized they couldn't find the constable and believed she was inside the apartment with Stansell.
During the incident, residents at the apartment complex were evacuated from their homes, and placed in Sun Tran bus just a few blocks away.
Police entered Stansell's apartment and found Martinez inside, dead from gunshot wounds.
Officers later found Stansell in his apartment, and Miranda in his apartment next door.
Court records show that an eviction order was to be served on Stansell. A hearing in that case was held Monday, with the order issued the next day, Pima County Justice Court records showed. According to a court filing by the landlord's attorney, Stansell had threatened another resident of the apartment complex with a gun.
Online court records show no prior criminal offenses by Stansell, who has only a traffic ticket from Marana indicated in searches of his name among local and state courts.
One resident, Charles Lamar, 57, called Fox-Heath a "good person" who was willing to help out residents at the complex.
"She was a really good person," he told the Tucson Sentinel in an interview at the scene on Thursday afternoon. "She once brought me a mini-cooler to make sure I was OK, after mine broke. She was just a good person," she said. "I hate that she's gone."
The complex, previously known as Palo Verde Terrace, has been the scene of previous violent incidents, including a January 2022 drug-related shooting that left a man hospitalized. Seventeen 9mm bullet casings were found at the scene of that incident.
Sources have told the Sentinel that the apartment complex has been the site of at least several overdose deaths in recent years.
Thursday afternoon, more than a dozen local law enforcement officers were at the apartments, and the SWAT team had been called out earlier, with about 100 officers initially responding. TPD officers were not involved in the incident while shooting took place, Gradillas said, but responded to a "shots fired" call.
Martinez's Ford F-150 remained at the scene Thursday afternoon, with a small "Constable" sign on the door.
Just after 6 p.m., law enforcement officers formed a guard of honor and escorted Martinez's body away from the area, with motorcycle officers and other police vehicles moving in a line with lights flashing.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff on Friday, August 26, in honor of the "innocent lives lost" in the deadly incident, noting Martinez's military service and dedication to her constable position.
Martinez was appointed as a constable, responsible for serving court papers such as evictions and orders of protection, in March 2022, filling a vacancy left by the resignation of Constable Kristen Randall. Martinez was seeking to continue in her post by being elected in her Midtown precinct, despite being under investigation by the Arizona Constable Ethics, Standards and Training Board for allegations of potential felony fraud, forgery, perjury and tampering with public records.
A Tucson native and Pueblo High School graduate, Martinez retired from U.S. Army intelligence after multiple tours in Afghanistan and serving for 16 years.
Martinez is survived by her husband, Gabriel Garibay, and 22-year-old daughter Ryane Martinez.
Martinez confirmed his wife had died during an interview with TucsonSentinel.com on Thursday afternoon.
"It's just unreal, for someone to do that to another person," said Gabriel Garibay. "I'm still trying to put it together. It seems like it's unreal, I'm still thinking that it's a joke somewhere, but it's just a way to describe it. I don't know how to explain it."
"Two years ago we lost our six-year-old, and today my daughter called me crying," Garibay said, in a raspy voice on the edge of tears himself. "She wouldn't tell me why she was crying, but I got here to my in-law's (house), that's when she told me."
"We just keep putting in prayers and we're trying to figure out what's going on. Deborah was, there's no words to put it, how grateful she was, taking care of other people's needs. We're just trying to figure out what's going on," he said during a phone interview.
Sharon Bronson, chair of the Board of Supervisors, offered "deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Precinct 8 Constable Deborah Martinez, who was killed today in the line of duty," on behalf of her fellow supervisors and other county employees.
"Our county constables perform a difficult and important job for the people of this county," said Bronson. "They often encounter people at their most vulnerable and emotional, yet they all perform their duties with professionalism and compassion. I am heartbroken at this terrible tragedy and I will keep Constable Martinez and all who knew and loved her in my thoughts."
Under state law, Martinez will be replaced on the November general election ballot by a candidate chosen by the Pima County Democratic Party.