July 23, 2021
UPDATE: Police have identified the body found in the charred home as Jennifer A. Fells, 36, a mother of three. She was reportedly Scarlett’s girlfriend. Authorities also announced Thursday that after languishing for four days in critical condition, Scarlett did not survive. Read more.
July 20, 2021
TUCSON, Ariz. — An Arizona man identified as Leslie Stephen Scarlett is accused of setting fire to a home in Tucson before engaging in a deadly shooting spree that left one neighbor dead and two EMTs and a fire captain wounded before a police officer managed to neutralize the suspect and prevent any further loss of life.
Scarlet, 35, remained hospitalized in critical condition as of Monday, Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said at a press conference. Investigators believe Scarlett initially set fire to a home in the 2100 block of East Irene Vista at 3:46 p.m. Sunday before shooting at citizens and first responders alike, according to Fox News.
A woman who lived in the burned-out structure is presumed dead. However, the remains still need to be positively identified. Three children who also lived in the residence were initially reported missing, but have since been found safe with relatives, Law Officer reported.
“Mr. Scarlett has a criminal history that includes serving six years in prison for armed robbery. He also has a history of mental health issues,” Magnus said during the press conference. “There are far too many individuals with violent criminal intent and the means to injure and kill people. Too often, first responders, such as police, fire and emergency medical service personnel become targeted for reasons that are unclear.”
“Is it a vendetta, the uniform, the authority it represents or just that police, fire and EMS are the ones out in the field responding to crises and dealing with deeply troubled people day in and day out?” the chief offered for thought.
“The real question we should be asking is how can we coordinate the work of our criminal justice and mental health systems to prevent these terrible attacks? Who are these ticking time bombs and is there anything we can do, working together instead of in silos, to predict their level of risk?” Magnus said. “How does someone like the suspect in this case, a prohibited possessor, even come to have a firearm? There are many unanswered questions right now that need to be pursued further in the days to come.”
According to investigators, once Scarlett set the home on fire, he left the scene and headed to a nearby park, where he ambushed two EMTs who had been standing outside an America Medical Response ambulance stationed at Quincie Douglas Center for “an unrelated medical emergency,” Magnus said.
A 20-year-old male EMT was shot in the head and is listed in critical condition. His EMT partner, a 22-year-old female, received gunshot wounds to the chest and arm. She remained hospitalized in serious, but stable condition, according to the chief.
After opening fire on the first responders, Scarlett returned to the scene of the residential fire. Upon arrival he began shooting at firefighters, neighbors and “basically anyone who was trying to help,” Magnus said.
A neighbor, identified as Cory Saunders, 44, was fatally shot in the head. The chief said the victim’s 11-year-old son witnessed the attack, Fox News reported.
A Tucson fire captain was shot in an arm, was treated and released from the hospital. The 17-year TFD veteran is recovering at home. A second neighbor who was grazed in the head by a round fired by the suspect “did not require further medical treatment at the hospital,” Magnus said.
After gunning down Saunders, shooting the fire captain and grazing a neighbor, Scarlett fled the scene of the house fire a second time. While making his getaway, he rammed a police car that was responding to the chaos, Magnus said.
The heroic officer who was rammed, was identified as Officer Danny Leon, an eight-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department. Leon immediately exited his unit, took cover, and received gunfire from Scarlett. As a result, the officer returned fire, striking the gunman, Magnus said.
Officers rendered first aid to Scarlett, and he was transported to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition, Fox reported.
The chief praised the officer’s response as he noted the vital role that police have in pubic life.
“His actions serve as a critical reminder for the role police play in protecting the public,” Magnus said of Leon. “His ability to go from using deadly force to rendering first aid is remarkable – but not unusual.”
Magnus played out to reporters at the press conference a portion of audio from the fire department’s radio, as well as officer-worn body camera footage of the incident from Leon’s perspective.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero described how Leon “responded immediately to the scene, knowing he would be entering harm’s way.”
“Despite his car being rammed and shots being fired directly him, he demonstrated incredible composure and bravery in neutralizing the threat,” she said. “His actions were heroic and likely saved lives.”