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Bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting of man who killed at least one during house fire released

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Leslie Stephen
Tucson Police Department
Leslie Stephen

TUCSON (KVOA) - The man who reportedly shot and killed at least one person during Sunday's shootings on Tucson's south side was identified by Tucson Police Department during a press conference held Monday afternoon.

In Monday's briefing, Chief Chris Magnus shared that the suspect, later identified as 35-year-old Leslie Stephen Scarlett, left the scene of a house fire located in 2100 block of E. Irene Vista, near South Kino Parkway and 36th Street, and opened fire at an America Medical Response ambulance, that was stationed at Quincie Douglas Center at around 3:45 p.m. in reference to an unrelated medical incident.

Authorities said Scarlett allegedly shot an AMR EMT shot in the head. Another EMT was struck in the chest and arm in connection to the incident.

According to Magnus, the 35-year-old then returned to the scene of the house fire, where he approached a neighbor, later identified as 44-year-old Cory Saunders, who was flagging down firefighters at the scene. TPD said a confrontation ensued, resulting in Saunders being fatally shot in the head, a Tucson Fire Department chief being struck in the arm and a bullet grazing another neighbor, who sustained minor injuries in the incident.

"He (Saunders) is survived by his 11-year-old son, who, to make things worse, witnessed the attack," Magnus said. "The suspect then fled the scene again, ramming a Tucson Police car that was responding to the incident. The officer in that car, Officer Danny Leon, an eight-year veteran of the Tucson Police Department, immediately got out of his vehicle and took cover. The suspect then fired three rounds at the officer, who returned fire, striking the suspect."

Magnus then shared that TPD rendered aid on Scarlett and transported him to the hospital, where he remains in extremely critical condition.

"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. "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."

According to court documents, the shooting suspect was convicted of attempted armed robbery in 2006. He was released in 2013. He was served a 52-day sentence in Pima County Jail for disorderly conduct in 2016.

"The real question we should be asking is how can be 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 pursued further in the days to come."

Magnus said after the fire was extinguished, TFD discovered a deceased individual in the house. While the identity of this individual has not yet been released, Magnus said a woman who lived in the home is unaccounted for, but presumed dead.

Initially, TPD shared that the woman's three children were initially unaccounted for after the shooting. TPD said investigators with the child physical abuse unit located the children safe at a family member's residence.

During the press release, City of Tucson Mayor Regina Romero spoke about Sunday's shootings.

"As your mayor, you have my full support with any needs that arise and know you are not alone during this difficult time. There are still many unanswered questions and we must let the investigation take its course," Romero said. "Officer Danny 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. His actions were heroic and likely saved lives."

In Monday afternoon's press conference, Magnus also shared that the 20-year-old AMR EMT who was shot in the head in connection to Sunday's incident is currently in life-threatening condition. The other EMT shot in the incident is currently in serious but stable condition.

Also, Magnus shared that the TFD captain who was shot in the arm Sunday was treated and released from the hospital later that evening.

The investigation is ongoing.

The bodycam footage captured in connection to the incident has since been released. To view the video in its entirety, watch the video below.

WARNING: The video contains graphic material that may not suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

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Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.

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