San Bernardino County Sheriff’s investigators strongly suggest that a teenager killed in a shootout with deputies may have fired at them during a vehicle pursuit of the missing girl and her fugitive father.
Sheriff Shannon Dicus provided an update Wednesday of the previous day’s incident that began in Barstow with a vehicle pursuit on Interstate 15 of Anthony John Graziano, 45, and 15-year-old Savanna Graziano.
In a brief video on Wednesday, Dicus said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Specialized detectives processed the shooting scene throughout the night and updated the sheriff.
“Based on the information, evidence suggests that Savanna Graziano was a participant in shooting at our deputies,” Dicus said. “However, based on the totality of events and requirements of Assembly Bill 1506, I have consulted with the California Department of Justice about assuming the primary role for this investigation.”
Dicus added that if the requirements of AB 1506 are met —and the DOJ takes the lead in the investigation —the agency will release further updates.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Dicus said “preliminary information” only suggested that Savanna Graziano, who was reportedly abducted on Monday by her father in Fontana, may have fired back at deputies during the vehicle pursuit.
Anthony Graziano, who was suspected of killing his estranged wife, Tracy Martinez, 45, and abducting their daughter, had been living with the teenager out of his pickup truck and hotels for weeks before the violence, authorities said
Throughout the pursuit, Anthony Graziano was “constantly shooting back at the deputies” with a rifle through the truck’s rear window, said Dicus on Tuesday.
When Graziano’s Nissan Frontier went off-road and stopped along I-15 in Hesperia, the suspect began firing at deputies.
During the exchange of gunfire, Anthony Graziano was fatally shot by deputies. Savanna Graziano, wearing a tactical helmet and vest, got out of the vehicle and ran toward deputies when she was struck by gunfire.
Savanna Graziano was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly before noon on Tuesday.
Authorities did not specify whether the teen girl was struck by gunfire from deputies or her father. According to Discus, only one AR-15-type rifle was found at the scene.
One deputy was hit in the face with shrapnel during the gunfight, Dicus said. The deputy is in stable condition.
Sheriff’s investigators are reviewing video of the pursuit and shootout.
AB 1506 increases the California Attorney General’s oversight over local law enforcement’s use of deadly force and gives the AG authority to conduct investigations of officer-involved shootings.
AB 1506 requires a state prosecutor from the AG’s office to investigate any incident where an officer-involved shooting resulted in the death of an unarmed civilian.
Beginning July 1, 2023, AB 1506 will require the Attorney General to operate a Police Practices Division within the DOJ to review a local law enforcement agency’s policies regarding the use of deadly force upon request of the agency.
The Graziano family
While many questions remain regarding Tuesday’s gunbattle, police in Fontana —where Graziano’s wife was killed Monday – offered details about the family’s life before the bloodshed.
Anthony Graziano had moved out of the family’s home a month or two before the killing; as the couple went through a divorce, Fontana Sgt. Christian Surgent told The Associated Press.
Savannah Graziano left with her father, while her younger brother stayed with their mother.
Police issued an Amber Alert after Martinez’s killing, saying Savannah Graziano had been abducted by her father. Now, detectives are trying to determine whether or not she was forced into leaving Fontana.
“Did she go willingly?” Surgent said. “Or was she actually abducted? We haven’t been able to prove that just yet.”
Fontana police had not received any reports of domestic violence at the home before this week, Surgent said, 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, who police said liked to camp out in the desert and mountains in his pickup truck.
On Monday, witnesses saw Martinez walking in Fontana when Graziano picked her up in his truck. Surgent said it was unclear whether she was forced into the vehicle or got in on her own.
“And immediately that’s when they started arguing and yelling, and domestic violence was occurring,” he said.
Martinez got out of the truck, and Graziano opened fire with a handgun, striking her multiple times, Surgent said.
The shooting on the street near an elementary school during morning drop-off forced students and parents to duck for cover.
Graziano fled and drove to get Savannah, who likely was wherever they had been staying that day, Surgent said.
The son was at the family’s home at the time and was not involved.
The next day, a 911 caller reported seeing the suspect’s Nissan Frontier about 70 miles north of Fontana in Barstow, where the vehicle pursuit began.
Sheriff’s officials provided no additional information Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism