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Constable, 3 others killed during Tucson eviction | crime and courts

A Pima County constable and three others are dead after gunfire erupted during an eviction in Tucson Thursday, Tucson police confirmed.

Constable Deborah Martinez went to serve an eviction Thursday at Lind Commons, 3493 E. Lind Road, and was killed while there.


Handout photo

The names of the three other people killed have not been confirmed by police, and police had released few details as of the Star’s publication deadline.

A resident of the apartment shot through a window at a person standing outside. The resident then went outside and shot that same person, who was not the constable, associate presiding constable Bill Lake said earlier Thursday.

“We can confirm a homicide investigation is underway,” the Tucson Police Department tweeted Thursday afternoon, before confirming later that four people were dead.

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The court record for the eviction at that address for this week shows the person who was to be evicted as Gavin Lee Stansell.

Pima County Justice Court records show that an eviction hearing for Stansell’s case was held Monday, Aug. 22. The eviction order was issued on Tuesday, Aug. 23, the records show.

Stansell had previously threatened another resident with a firearm, and “has otherwise disturbed the peace,” a court document says.

The complex is near East Fort Lowell Road and North Palo Verde Avenue.

When police arrived at the scene, Martinez’s car was parked at the complex with her purse and personal phone inside.

Tucson Police officers talk with a Pima County constable at a roadblock on Palo Verde Avenue just south of Lind Road at the shooting scene at Lind Commons apartments on Thursday.

Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star

Martinez was appointed to the constable’s position in March to replace Kristen Randall, who resigned from the position serving Justice Precinct 8, which covers the midtown area.

Randall said Thursday she was shocked but not surprised to hear of the incident.

“We just show up and make entry to people’s homes,” Randall said of the constables’ jobs.

Evictions are surging in Pima County as housing prices spike. So-called writs of restitution, the judicial orders that prompt an eviction, were issued 2,345 times through the end of July this year compared to 2,318 times for all of 2021.

Martinez served 16 years in the Army, worked with homeless veterans and ran an adaptive golf program for veterans called PGA HOPE.

When she was appointed as constable, Martinez said she was motivated to seek the position for reasons similar to why she was drawn to join the Army.

“I joined (the Army) after Sept. 11, and I just felt that it was wrong for me to sit at home when I knew that I could contribute,” Martinez said in March. “It’s the same thing with serving my community, I can see a need.”

She said she planned to approach evictions with “empathy and humanity.”

“When I deal with the people that I have to evict, I understand that’s my responsibility, but they’re still people,” Martinez said. “Just giving some basic dignity and respect can go so far in helping these people rebuild their lives.”

The Star’s Jesse Tellez contributed to this report. Contact columnist Tim Steller at [email protected] or 520-807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

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