A 15-year-old who was killed alongside her fugitive father in a shootout with California police allegedly fired at officers before getting shot herself, authorities claim.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office made the claim in seeking to clarify the circumstances around Savannah Graziano’s death amid questions over why she was shot while police were pursuing her father, Anthony Graziano, in a dramatic chase on Tuesday.
An Amber Alert was issued for Savannah on Monday after Graziano, 45, allegedly shot dead his wife Tracy Martinez in Fontana before fleeing with the teen.
Graziano’s Nissan Frontier was sighted on a highway east of Los Angeles on Tuesday, prompting a 45-mile police chase.
The pursuit ended in a shootout that left both Graziano and Savannah dead.
In an update on Wednesday, Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Savannah was struck by police gunfire as she ran toward deputies wearing a tactical helmet and vest. The sheriff did not specify whether Savannah was actively firing at deputies when she was hit but said both she and her father are believed to have participated in the shootout.
However, only one rifle was recovered from the scene near Graziano’s body.
The California Department of Justice is now the leading agency in the investigation into the circumstances around the shootout, Mr Dicus said.
Sheriff Dicus provides an update on the status of the deputy involved shooting investigation in Hesperia. pic.twitter.com/qHX9VC1e1P
— San Bernardino County Sheriff (@sbcountysheriff) September 28, 2022
Fontana Sargeant Christian Surgent told the Associated Press that Graziano and Martinez were going through a divorce and he had moved out of the family home a month ago.
On Monday, Martinez and Graziano were seen arguing inside her truck. When she got out of the vehicle, Graziano shot and killed her, police said.
Police said that information transpired during the investigation that makes them uncertain whether Savannah was abducted by her father or left willingly.
After allegedly killing his wife, Graziano picked up Savannah, who had been living with him out of his truck and hotel rooms for weeks. Savannah’s younger brother had stayed living with Martinez.
“Did she go willingly?” Mr Surgent told the AP. “Or was she actually abducted? We haven’t been able to prove that just yet.”
Authorities told the AP that no domestic violence reports were made before the violence ensued on Monday.