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Teen had been staying with father before mother’s slaying

by Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press | September 29, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
FILE - This undated photo provided by the City of Fontana, Calif., Police Department shows 45-year-old Anthony John Graziano. Graziano and his teenage daughter he abducted a day earlier were killed amid a shootout with law enforcement Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, on a highway in California's high desert, authorities said. (Courtesy of City of Fontana Police Department via AP, File)

LOS ANGELES -- A Southern California man who was accused of killing his estranged wife and abducting their 15-year-old daughter had been living with the teenager out of his pickup truck and hotels for weeks before the violence, authorities said Wednesday.

Anthony John Graziano and his daughter, Savannah Graziano, were killed Tuesday in a shootout with law enforcement on a highway in the high desert after a 45-mile (72-kilometer) chase. The girl, wearing a tactical helmet and vest, ran toward deputies amid a hail of gunfire. Authorities are investigating whether she was shot by deputies or her father, or both.

While many questions remain regarding Tuesday's gunbattle, police in Fontana -- where Graziano's wife, 45-year-old Tracy Martinez, was killed Monday -- offered some details about the family's life before the bloodshed erupted this week.

Graziano, 45, had moved out of the family's home a month or two before the mother's 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 coerced 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 the slaying, 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, whom 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 not clear 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 -- potentially to escape -- and Graziano opened fire on her 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 the scene and drove to get Savannah, who had been somewhere else at the time -- likely 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 around Barstow, nearly 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of Fontana.

San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies located the pickup truck and chased it on the highway for around 45 miles (70 kilometers) to Hesperia. Throughout the pursuit, Graziano -- and possibly his daughter as well -- was "constantly shooting back at the deputies" with a rifle through the truck's rear window, San Bernardino County Sheriff Shannon Dicus said Tuesday during a news conference.

A firefight in Hesperia ensued, with dozens of bullets flying. Savannah ran toward deputies -- who did not realize it was her -- in the chaos and went down amid the gunfire. She was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead shortly before noon.

Her father was found in the driver's seat and pronounced dead at the scene.

The Sheriff's Department declined to release any additional information Wednesday.

In Fontana, mourners contributed flowers, balloons and candles to a small memorial.

----

Associated Press News Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed.

photo This undated photo provided by the City of Fontana Police Department shows abducted teen Savannah Graziano. Graziano, abducted by her father a day earlier, was killed amid a shootout with law enforcement Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022, on a highway in California's high desert, authorities said. (City of Fontana Police Department via AP)
photo This image from video provided by KABC-TV shows a truck owned by Anthony John Graziano after a shootout on a highway in Hesperia, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. The Southern California man who was accused of killing his estranged wife and abducting their 15-year-old daughter had been living with the teenager out of his pickup truck and hotels for weeks before the violence, authorities said Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022. (KABC-TV via AP)

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