PHOENIX - The family of Sandra Perez, the 21-year-old mother who was allegedly shot and killed by her husband Sunday , is shedding some light on what appeared to be an abusive relationship that ended in tragedy.
Perez's family last saw her at church Sunday morning -- part of the group's weekly ritual.
Hours later, they received a phone call from authorities informing them that Perez was dead. They later found out the suspect was her husband, 23-year-old Ismael Perez-Barraza.
Perez's family said that they had a feeling she was in an abusive relationship. They pleaded with her to get help when they noticed some bruising on her body, however, she always refused.
"We tried to keep her safe," said Brenda Diaz, her cousin. "All she wanted to do was make her marriage work."
Perez's father, Oscar Lopez, believed her daughter's husband was a "violent man with weapons," speaking in Spanish.
With that knowledge, he cautiously feared the worst. "Yes I knew [of the abuse]," he said. "If she didn't kill him, he would kill her."
Phoenix police Lt. Michael Rivera said the shooting happened Sunday evening during a family argument at their home near 75th Avenue and Indian School Road.
Perez was taken to a nearby hospital in extremely critical condition, and later died due to her injuries.
The couple had been married for about a year and a half and has a 2-month-old daughter. Authorities said the child was present during the shooting, but was uninjured. The child is now with relatives.
Authorities issued a national alert after Perez-Barraza fled in a green 2006 Nissan Titan. They believe he has left Phoenix and could either be headed to California or to the Mexico border. The license plate on his car is 520 WCT.
He was last seen wearing a black shirt and black pants, said Rivera.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the shooting should call 911 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.