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Tucson shooting: 2 dead, multiple people hurt after shooting, house fire

Police say a Tucson ambulance crew and several others were shot in an incident Sunday evening..jpg
Posted at 8:21 PM, Jul 18, 2021

TUCSON, AZ — Two people are dead and multiple others, including first responders, were hurt when someone showed up to an active house fire in Tucson and started shooting, according to Tucson police.

In a Sunday evening news conference, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus described the situation as "horrific."

He said the suspect, 35-year-old Leslie Scarlett, was taken to the hospital in critical condition after exchanging gunfire with a Tucson police officer. As of Tuesday morning, Scarlett remains hospitalized.

Leslie Scarlett.jpeg
2016 mugshot

Police provided the above photo of Scarlett from 2016.

In a news conference Monday afternoon, Chief Magnus said Scarlett has a history of mental health issues and spent six years in prison for armed robbery. Due to that conviction, he was also prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Watch Monday's press conference with Tucson police, fire, and Mayor Regina Romero below. Viewer discretion is advised.

According to Chief Magnus, the Tucson Fire Department responded to a reported house fire around 3:45 p.m. Sunday in a neighborhood near 36th Street and South Kino Parkway, southeast of downtown Tucson.

Police say they now believe it started when Scarlett left the scene of the house fire and headed to Silverlake Park, targeting crews who were standing by an unrelated medical emergency. Not long after the paramedics arrived at the scene, a man in a silver SUV approached the ambulance and began shooting. The man fired multiple shots into the driver's side of the ambulance, striking both paramedics inside.

One of the paramedics was able to call for help and provide a description of the suspect's vehicle.

Police said one of the paramedics, described as a 20-year-old, was taken to the hospital in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head. The other, a 21-year-old woman, was struck in the arm and is in serious but stable condition.

Police said the man in the silver SUV then drove back to the house where the house fire was taking place and again began shooting.

A Tucson fire captain was shot in the arm and is expected to be OK. A neighbor, 44-year-old Cory Saunders, died after he was shot in the head, authorities said. Police also say his 11-year-old son witnessed the deadly shooting.

A third person was grazed by a bullet and is expected to be OK, authorities said.

When the suspect drove off, Magnus says he rammed Officer Danny Leon's squad car. Leon, an 8-year veteran of the department, got out of the car and exchanged fire with the suspect, hitting him. Magnus says they're not releasing details about the weapon the suspect used pending further investigation involving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Police said one person was found dead inside the burned house and that due to the condition of the body, investigators have not been able to determine that person's age or gender.

It's currently believed the body in the burned home may be that of a mother who is unaccounted for at this time. The mother's children were also unaccounted for after the incident but were later located and said to be safe. The children are now in the care of family members.

"I could not be more proud of our men and women," Tucson Fire Chief Chuck Ryan said at Monday's news conference. "This is so far out of the realm of what is normal. It's unconscionable, and it's difficult to not be intensely angry about what occurred."

Following the shooting, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero released a statement on Twitter: "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. This was a horrific and senseless act of violence," she said.

MAP: What happened in Sunday night's shooting