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Police are scrambling to piece together the motive behind a trio of shootings in Tuscon after a charred body was found inside a burning home over the weekend.
An unidentified suspect set a home ablaze in southeast Tucson and allegedly opened fire on paramedics and police as they responded to the scene, according to authorities.
On Sunday, firefighters were dispatched to a home engulfed in flames in the 2100 block of E. Irene Vista around 3:45 p.m. At the same time, paramedics were responding to a separate medical call at nearby Quincie Douglas Park, police said in a press release. EMTs encountered an armed man driving a silver SUV, who reportedly pointed towards the fire, but then began firing at the first responders.
A 20-year-old EMT driver was struck in the head, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus confirmed and CNN reported. A second EMT worker sustained gunshot wounds to his arm and chest. They are listed in critical and stable condition, respectively. One of the victims was able to call for medical help and give information related to the suspected shooter to law enforcement.
As rescue crews and neighbors descended on the nearby burning home, the suspected 35-year-old shooter returned to the scene and opened fire. A 44-year-old man was shot in the head and died. A bullet grazed a second neighbor’s head, injuring him. A veteran firefighter was also struck in the arm. He’s in stable condition.
The severely burnt remains of an unidentified individual were later found inside the residence. It’s unclear if the body belonged to a man or woman. Police didn’t disclose any possible relationship between the victim and the alleged shooter. Authorities are now investigating the whereabouts of two or three children who are believed to have been living in the house that was set ablaze.
The suspect fled the scene but was apprehended by a police officer following a shootout at a third location. The unnamed shooter allegedly crashed his car into a patrol car, disabling it, and later exchanged fire with an officer. He was shot and taken to hospital in critical condition.
The suspect is currently hospitalized and hasn’t yet been charged, according to officials.
“His status is still life threatening,” Sergeant Richard Gradillas told Oxygen.com on Monday.
At a press conference a night earlier, Tucson’s police chief explained that detectives are diligently working to piece together what fueled the series of shootings.
"This is both a highly tragic, really horrific incident with many unknowns at this time," Magnus said, according to KVOA.
He described the case as an “extraordinarily complex series of incidents.” Police suspect the shooter is connected to the arson.
City officials were quick to offer condolences to the victims in the incident.
“I ask our entire Tucson community to join me in thinking about and praying for the victims of this afternoon’s fire and shooting by Silverlake Park, including first responders from AMR and the Tucson Fire Department,” Tucson Mayor Regina Romero posted on Twitter. “This was a horrific and senseless act of violence.”
Romero said she was in contact with city police regarding the unfolding investigation.
“Thank you to the men and women at @Tucson_Police, @TucsonFireDept and all of the first responders and neighbors who courageously responded to the scene, knowingly putting themselves in danger,” she added.
Investigators haven’t released additional information.
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