Teen girl killed with father in freeway shootout may have fired at deputies, sheriff says

Victorville, CA - September 27: Law enforcement officers and vehicles surrounded the vehicle (far left) driven by Anthony John Graziano, 45, following a gun battle with the man near Main Street on the 15 freeway in Victorville Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. Graziano was the main suspect in the killing of his wife Monday near Cypress Elementary School in Fontana. The couples 15-year old daughter Savannah Graziano, dressed in tactical gear, was also killed. (Photo by Will Lester/MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images) (MediaNews Group/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images via Getty Images)

For the record:
11:18 a.m. Sept. 28, 2022: An earlier version of this article reported that Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Savannah Graziano was killed by sheriff’s deputies in a shootout. She was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, but Dicus did not say who shot her.

A day after a 15-year-old girl and her father were killed in a shootout with law enforcement in Hesperia, the San Bernardino County sheriff said Wednesday that the teen may have shot at some point at deputies who were pursuing their vehicle.

Anthony Graziano, 45, and daughter Savannah Graziano were fatally shot Tuesday off the 15 Freeway at the end of a chaotic car chase from Barstow to Hesperia in which deputies faced constant gunfire, authorities said. An Amber Alert had been put out for Savannah after her father was suspected of killing his estranged wife and abducting his daughter.

Savannah was shot as she ran toward deputies in the middle of the gunfight while wearing body armor and a tactical helmet, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said.

On Wednesday, the sheriff said "evidence suggests that Savannah Graziano was a participant in shooting at our deputies."

Aside from his short statement, Dicus did not elaborate on what role Savannah had played during the pursuit. He did not say whether she was armed when she was running toward deputies, or who shot her.

Dicus said his department would refer the case to the California Department of Justice to see whether it meets the requirements of Assembly Bill 1506, which requires the state to investigate police shootings involving unarmed civilians.

An AR-15-style rifle was found in Anthony Graziano's pickup truck. Sheriff's Department officials have declined to say whether any other weapons were recovered at the scene.

Authorities also said Wednesday that Graziano had amassed a cache of numerous rifles, thousands of rounds of ammunition and body armor.

On Wednesday, Fontana Police Sgt. Christian Surgent said detectives served two search warrants at a home and a storage facility linked to Graziano, where they found "numerous" rifles, handguns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, smoke grenades, body armor and other "survival gear." The weapons were legally owned, Surgent said.

Law enforcement began searching for Graziano and daughter Savannah after Fontana police and the California Highway Patrol issued an Amber Alert on Monday. Authorities had described Graziano as armed and dangerous and Savannah as a kidnapping victim after the fatal shooting of Savannah's mother that morning in her Fontana home.

Dicus described a frantic and "highly complex" situation Tuesday in which deputies gave chase while taking fire from the back window of a white pickup truck. The shots at one point disabled a deputy's patrol vehicle.

Following up on 911 calls Tuesday morning from people reporting sightings of Graziano or his daughter in Barstow, deputies tried to pull over the truck, leading to the high-speed pursuit when he refused to stop, said Brittany Rios, a department spokesperson.

Deputies chased the truck on Highway 395, then down Highway 58.

"The suspect was firing back at our deputies the entire time," Dicus said.

The chase continued onto the 15 toward Victorville and Hesperia, he said, with Graziano "constantly shooting."

At one point, Dicus said, Graziano drove the truck off-road near Main Street. Other law enforcement agencies had joined the pursuit by then, and deputies tried to contain the truck in a triangle-shaped area just off the 15, he said. Instead, a gunfight ensued.

In a video posted to Twitter by a motorist caught in standstill traffic on the 15, several dozen gunshots are heard as police sirens wail and a helicopter circles overhead.

It was during the shootout that deputies saw someone wearing body armor and a tactical helmet running toward them, Dicus said. Deputies opened fire at the person, and after they ran out to render medical aid, they realized it was the 15-year-old girl, he said.

Her father was found in the driver's side of the truck, Dicus said.

Graziano died at the scene, and Savannah was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

One deputy was injured when he was hit in the face with shrapnel, Dicus said.

The Fontana Police Department had found Graziano's wife with multiple gunshot wounds Monday morning near Cypress Avenue and Mallory Drive. She was taken to a nearby hospital, where she died.

Dicus said that officials would review video of the scene taken from the department's helicopter to determine exactly what happened.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.