Teenage girl killed in high desert shooting was a ‘participant’: Sheriff
SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. — A 15-year-old girl shot dead Tuesday morning in the high desert during a shootout with sheriff’s deputies was a participant, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon D. Dicus announced Wednesday.
“Evidence suggests that Savannah Graziano participated in the shooting of our deputies,” the sheriff said in a released statement.
Graziano’s father, Anthony John Graziano, 45, died in the shooting with deputies along Interstate 15 near the Main Street exit in Hesperia. During the shooting, Savannah Graziano got out of the Nissan Frontier the two were traveling in and ran towards the deputies – she was wearing tactical gear, according to Dicus.
The teenager was shot and pronounced dead at an area hospital at 11:52 a.m. Tuesday.
An assault rifle was found inside the Nissan next to the corpse of Anthony Graziano, according to Dicus’ press conference on Tuesday, but no update on additional weapons recovered was provided.
Dicus said the California Department of Justice has been contacted about the incident and may take the lead role in the investigation.
The shooting unfolded after a citizen spotted the Nissan near Barstow and reported it to authorities around 10:25 a.m. Tuesday, Dicus said. A day earlier, the California Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert stating that Savannah Graziano had been “kidnapped/taken” by her father. Dicus said the citizen recognized the truck from police photos.
Anthony Graziano was suspected of killing his 45-year-old wife, Tracy Martinez, near Cypress Elementary School in Fontana on Monday morning. After the murder, he fled with his daughter and the Amber Alert was activated in Kern, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties on behalf of the Fontana Police Department.
Fontana police called the case a “domestic violence incident,” but did not specify a possible motive for the murder. The couple would have been in the middle of a divorce.
When police caught up with the father and daughter Tuesday morning in the high desert, they led the pursuit from Barstow to Hesperia that included U.S. Route 395, State Route 58 and Interstate 15, Dicus said. Along the way, law enforcement vehicles caught fire on the Nissan.
The final shootout erupted along southbound I-15 in Hesperia. The Nissan was boxed in by law enforcement and street barricades – several bullets were exchanged.
Photos of the disabled Nissan stuck in the desert sand were circulating in the media on Tuesday. Footage showed a yellow tarp over the truck’s windshield and a right rear flat tire.
A sheriff’s deputy was injured by shrapnel in the shooting but is expected to survive. Several law enforcement vehicles were damaged by gunfire, according to Dicus.
A SigAlert was issued and all southbound I-15 lanes were closed through Wednesday as investigators processed the scene.