PHOENIX - Residents of a Phoenix apartment complex are speaking out after a local author and motivational speaker allegedly shot and killed his ex-wife and two children on Christmas Day.
The shooting has rocked The Highlands apartment community where it took place. On Wednesday, Phoenix police were back at the crime scene near 16th Street and Highland Avenue continuing their investigation, while a private HAZMAT crew worked on cleaning up the property scarred with blood.
Residents had left flowers and candles in front of the suspect's apartment, where the two children, Anora and Nigel Ross were found dead.
A single white rose also marked the spot where the mother, Iris Ross died.
Many residents were home on Christmas Day, some of them from out of town visiting family in the apartment complex.
Brooke Slade who lived a few doors down from the suspect said she had been sleeping when she heard the first gun shots.
"I just heard like the first two gunshots and then I heard the lady screaming, 'no, no.' Then someone asked what was going on and then her scream again, and then there were seven or eight more shots," said Slade.
Another man who is visiting from out of state for the holidays had just arrived an hour before the chaos began.
"All of a sudden I heard two to three pop, pop, pops. Everybody thought it was fireworks but I own a 9 millimeter. I know the sound of a gun," said the man who asked not to be identified.
"He came down and he had a glass of something in his hand. The wife was yelling, 'help, please help, help.' So we're all running and then he threw the glass of whatever it was in her face. She was kind of staggering and stuff and he cocked his gun and shot her. My wife and son saw the actual smoke coming from all of the bullet discharge," said the man.
According to court reports, witnesses who saw the shooting asked the suspect if the victim, Iris Ross was okay.
"He goes, 'no,' and pointed the gun at them and they ran like hell," said the man.
Police broke through an apartment next to the suspect's to send a robot inside.
The man said once police entered, he heard a succession of gunfire.
"From what I saw it was at least 15 minutes of continuous rapid fire. You can hear when he is shooting because the 9 millimeter is just a pop, and then you could hear the police shoot with the rat-a-tat-tat," said the man.
After finding out the full scope of the tragedy he had witnessed the man said he was not only shaken to the core, but also very angry. He had seen videos of the suspect singing Christmas carols with his son, posted on Facebook just hours before the shooting. He had also heard the suspect was a well known weight loss motivational speaker, promoting a plant-based Vegan lifestyle.
"What I see is a phony. I hope in jail they feed him steak everyday. I hope they do shove it down his throat, if they do feed him," said the man.
In one TV interview, Ross shared his story of weight loss saying he had decided to change his lifestyle after he could not fit into a ride at Universal Studios, and that had made his son cry.
"Supposedly he lost the weight so he could get a better relationship with his son. So you shoot him? That is inhumane. I won't even call him an animal because I have respect for animals. He is something below an animal.”
The man said this is a Christmas that would haunt many of them forever.
"These three people are dead. They don't have another chance. It has ruined Christmas for a lot of people and that is really sad. I know the holidays are an emotional time for everybody, but to do this. I think a lot of people will never look at Christmas the same."
The apartment complex managers sent out a note to residents saying they planned to bring in a licensed grief counselor for those who needed help dealing with this tragedy.
The family of Iris Ross is planning to hold a community vigil in honor of her and the two children. ABC15 Arizona will post the details as soon as it is finalized.