San Bernardino County

Teen, Father Killed in Pursuit Shootout Were Living Out of Motels, Truck for Weeks

Authorities provided more details about events surrounding a deadly shootout involving a murder suspect and his teen daughter in the high desert north of Los Angeles.

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A Southern California man who was accused of killing his estranged wife and abducting their 15-year-old daughter had been living with the teenager out of his pickup truck and hotels for weeks before the violence, authorities said Wednesday.

Anthony John Graziano and his daughter, Savannah Graziano, were killed Tuesday in a shootout with law enforcement on a highway in the high desert after a 45-mile (72-kilometer) chase. The girl, wearing a tactical helmet and vest, ran toward deputies amid a hail of gunfire. Authorities are investigating whether she was shot by deputies or her father, or both.

While many questions remain regarding Tuesday's gunbattle, police in Fontana — where Graziano's wife, 45-year-old Tracy Martinez, was killed Monday — offered some details about the family's life before the bloodshed erupted this week.

A storage unit filled with legally-owned guns and ammo was discovered belonging to the suspect. Tony Shin reports Sept. 28, 2022.

Graziano, 45, had moved out of the family’s home a month or two before the mother's killing, as the couple went through a divorce, Fontana Sgt. Christian Surgent told The Associated Press. Savannah Graziano left with her father, while her younger brother stayed with their mother.

Police issued an Amber Alert after Martinez's killing, saying Savannah Graziano had been abducted by her father. Now, detectives are trying to determine whether or not she was coerced into leaving Fontana.

“Did she go willingly?” Surgent said. “Or was she actually abducted? We haven’t been able to prove that just yet.”

Fontana police had not received any reports of domestic violence at the home before the slaying, Surgent said, and child services had not been involved with the family. Neither parent was on probation or parole at the time and investigators believe Savannah was being home-schooled while she lived with her father, whom police said liked to camp out in the desert and mountains in his pickup truck.

An intense search continues for a father on the run with his 15-year-old daughter in an Amber Alert investigation that crosses multiple counties and now possibly other states. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News on Sept. 26, 2022.

On Monday, witnesses saw Martinez walking in Fontana when Graziano picked her up in his truck. Surgent said it was not clear whether she was forced into the vehicle or got in on her own.

“And immediately that's when they started arguing and yelling and domestic violence was occurring,” he said.

Martinez got out of the truck — potentially to escape — and Graziano opened fire on her with a handgun, striking her multiple times, Surgent said. The shooting on the street near an elementary school during morning drop-off forced students and parents to duck for cover.

Graziano fled the scene and drove to get Savannah, who had been somewhere else at the time — likely wherever they had been staying that day, Surgent said. The son was at the family's home at the time and was not involved.

The next day, a 911 caller reported seeing the suspect’s Nissan Frontier around Barstow, nearly 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of Fontana.

San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies located the pickup truck and chased it on the highway for around 45 miles (70 kilometers) to Hesperia. Throughout the pursuit, Graziano — and possibly his daughter as well — was “constantly shooting back at the deputies” with a rifle through the truck’s rear window, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Tuesday during a news conference.

“There may be some indications that the passenger of the vehicle, which we believe was Savannah, may have been also involved in some of the fire exchange," Dicus said.

A firefight in Hesperia ensued, with dozens of bullets flying. Savannah ran toward deputies — who did not realize it was her — in the chaos and went down amid the gunfire. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly before noon.

Her father was found in the driver’s seat and pronounced dead at the scene.

The Sheriff’s Department declined to release any additional information Wednesday.

In Fontana, mourners contributed flowers, balloons and candles to a small memorial.

Fontana police told NBCLA they searched a storage unit that belongs to Anthony Graziano. In his storage unit, detectives say they found guns, body armor, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and even smoke bombs.

"All the handguns were owned legally but they were seized as evidence in the investigation," said Fontana police officer Daniel Romero.

Kelly Layne, a friend of the suspect, says she talked to Anthony Graziano just last week. He said he was struggling, and going through the divorce.

"He was having trouble with her. They weren’t getting along. I told him to keep your head down and focus on your kids," Layne said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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