Savannah Graziano, the 15-year-old girl killed in a firefight Tuesday by San Bernardino deputies who had been searching for her as a kidnapping victim after her father, Anthony John Graziano, murdered her mother on Monday, was firing at police when they shot her dead, authorities claim.
“Our specialized detectives processed the scene throughout the night and provided me a briefing this morning,” San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said in a 39-second tweet Wednesday. “Based on the information, evidence suggests that Savannah Graziano was a participant in shooting at our deputies.”
Dicus did not offer further specifics, instead saying he is asking the California Department of Justice to take over the investigation “based on the totality of events, and the requirements of Assembly Bill 1506.”
Dicus emphasized that “any additional updates will be released by Cal DOJ.”
This is worth noting because AB 1506 requires the state Attorney General’s office to investigate any incidents where an officer-involved shooting resulted in the death of an unarmed civilian—which is defined as any person not in possession of a deadly weapon—as well as questionable use of force by cops.
Sheriff Dicus provides an update on the status of the deputy involved shooting investigation in Hesperia. pic.twitter.com/qHX9VC1e1P
— San Bernardino County Sheriff (@sbcountysheriff) September 28, 2022
The tragedy began with Barstow deputies responding to an Amber Alert at 10:25 a.m. Monday in the areas of Highway 395 and Highway 58, where the suspect vehicle was seen. After an initial pursuit, Dicus said, “The suspect immediately starts firing at our deputies, putting several rounds through the windshield of the patrol unit.”
— CHP – Alerts (@CHPAlerts) September 26, 2022
At that point, Dicus said in a Tuesday press briefing, the pursuit began again and continued toward Highway 58 and the Inwood area, where it was joined by a second chase car. But the suspect shot the second pursuer “causing the vehicle to become disabled.”
Local resident Andy Davis indicated to ABC7 on Tuesday that he believed it was Graziano who murdered his daughter, saying, “The man just came down the street shooting. He started shooting in that direction. Hit those trees, houses across the street. They say the bullets were skipping off the street, and the woman was trying to run for her life, and unfortunately, she was hit. Once she was hit I guess he shot at her a few more times.”
As the Associated Press reports, Graziano, 45, had moved out of the family’s home at least a month prior to killing Savannah’s mother, 45-year-old Tracy Martinez. Savannah spent that period with her father while her younger brother stayed with their mom.
There were no reports of domestic violence at the home before the murder, Fontana Police Department Sergeant Christian Surgent told AP, and child services had not been involved with the family. Neither parent was on probation or parole at the time and investigators believe Savannah was being home-schooled while she lived with her father, whom police said liked to camp out in the desert and mountains in his pickup truck.
Fontana Police Department Sgt. Christian Surgent told AP that Savannah’s role in the nightmare is unclear, and is likely to remain so.
“Did she go willingly?” Surgent said. “Or was she actually abducted? We haven’t been able to prove that just yet.”