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Veteran survives deployments, killed in Chandler road rage dispute

Chris Pelkey.jpeg
Posted at 9:21 PM, Nov 16, 2021

CHANDLER, AZ — The man who died after a Chandler road rage incident over the weekend had survived plenty of near-death encounters before his life was taken at a busy, suburban intersection.

As an Army soldier who wasn’t afraid to face combat, Chris Pelkey’s sister, Stacey Wales said their "mother was prepared to have a door knock,” by an officer informing them of bad news.

That knock at the door never came when Chris Pelkey was in the face of danger – places much more dangerous than the intersection of Germann and Gilbert roads in Chandler.

Pelkey’s older brother and sister - never expected him to leave this earth in a road rage dispute.

Older brother, John Pelkey, recalls hearing his sister Stacey tell him their little brother Chris had been shot. With tears welled up in his eyes he said, “he'll be okay, he'll be okay and then he said he had died… No, not Chris. Not Chris.”

Chris' older brother John said the 37-year-old put his everything, into everything he did.

He was a combat soldier in the army for six years where he was on the frontlines for three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He survived multiple explosions and came back to the states a disabled veteran.

All of those injuries didn't stop Chris from his work in the church as a handyman.

His family said he took that work ethic on mission trips to Liberia where he caught malaria.

“That was a 50-50-coin flip if he was going to survive that. He survived that,” said John.

Combat created post-traumatic stress for Chris which was treated with the Wounded Warrior project at Camp Hope in Texas.

Upon finishing the year-long program, he moved back to Chandler where he got back involved in his church.

"He was finding great peace,” said John.

Then on Saturday, family says Chris was headed to the gym to relax in the hot tub after a doubleheader softball game with the church.

That's when police tell us he got into an argument with another driver at a red light. Chris got out of his car before being shot.

“All I kept thinking is, I hope he lives. I want him to live,” said Ruth Ann Rowland.

Rowland was a few car lengths back.

The mental health therapist said she ran toward Chris after he hit the ground and she started doing CPR along with five other people.

She said some helped with compressions, one man took his shirt off to try and stop the bleeding, even Rowland’s 11-year-old grandson called 911.

Rowland said one person, who at the time was a complete stranger to her, asked if the scene was clear. That’s when Rowland said she saw the other driver was still there with his gun on his hip.

"He was right across from us, he is watching us, I thought, 'oh my God, what did I get myself into?' but it didn't matter, I was there, and I wasn't stopping,” said Rowland.

The suspected shooter, who told police he 'feared for his life' during the encounter, is now facing murder charges.

Family says if Chris had survived the shooting “He would have been the very first person to have forgiven this man,” said John.

John and Stacey said the family plans to hold several services in states Chris lived around the country, including Arizona.

The family created a GoFundMe account to help with those expenses.