A horrifying shooting unfolded early Tuesday morning in a suburban cul-de-sac in Phoenix: a young man shot his family, set his house on fire, and was killed by police. As the smoke cleared, law enforcement, family, and neighbors were left wondering what led him to such violence.
The man Phoenix police believe is responsible for the shooting deaths of his parents and two little sisters is Alex Arthur Buckner, 26, ABC News reported.
The shooting victims are parents Vic, 50, and Kimberly, 49, and sister Kaitlin, 18, who were all pronounced dead at the scene. The youngest victim was sister Emma, only 6, who died at the hospital.
The scene in this quiet Phoenix neighborhood sounds like something out of a movie. Flames woke up neighbors, and cops rushed to the burning house and desperately ran inside to rescue victims in a hail of bullets. When the fire subsided, police found the shooter in a bedroom. He pointed his weapon, and officers were forced to shoot him before the flames reignited.
Diana Marie Buckner, Vic’s stepmother and a resident of Nevada, spoke to AZ Central after the death of her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren in Phoenix.
“Vic and his wife loved their children more than anything. They lived in a house that was full of love.”
According to accounts of the shooting from ABC News and ABC 15, Phoenix dispatch received a call just before 5 a.m. from Kaitlin, who called 911 to report that her brother had shot her. Neighbors reported sounds of an argument 30 minutes before that.
— ABC15 Arizona (@abc15) February 23, 2016
Officers arrived on scene to find the house on fire and gunshots being fired inside the home. At an upstairs window, some of the family were hollering for help.
So they did what they had to — they ran inside.
“You have people that need you to come and rescue them, and you now have not only a fire, but somebody who’s also firing a gun in there,” said Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump.
Officers put on breathing gear and wielded fire hoses and rushed into the house searching for victims. They found two and pulled them out, but then someone began shooting at them, and they had to retreat.
— Marc Cota-Robles (@abc7marccr) February 23, 2016
And then, for 45 minutes, they could do nothing but wait as the fire was brought under control and the gunfire stopped. During this “lull,” no one knew whether Alex was still alive or what was happening inside. When the scene was finally safe, a tactical team rushed in and searched the home.
They found the young man inside a room. He pointed his gun at cops, and he was shot and killed. It’s not clear if the gun was still loaded. Then suddenly, the fire reignited in the ceiling and police had to escape with Alex’s body.
Firefighters took down the fire. After it had been extinguished, the other victims were taken from the house. It’s not clear which of the shooting victims were removed from the house then, but police said the parents were found in an upstairs bedroom, Kaitlin was in a downstairs closet, and Emma was in another bedroom.
The only good news to emerge from the shooting, which local news described as Phoenix’s most dramatic and violent case of domestic violence in recent memory, was the rescue of the family dog — a dachshund named Bob. He was found trembling but uninjured and is now with a relative.
— Megan Cassidy (@meganrcassidy) February 23, 2016
The shooting victims appeared to have suffered gunshot wounds, but an autopsy will confirm their exact cause of death. The gun used in the shooting belonged to Vic, and police believe that Alex started the fire, the Arizona Daily Star added. Investigators are now on scene to comb through evidence and determine just what happened inside the Buckner home.
Relatives have offered a little insight into this Phoenix family’s life, particularly that of the shooter.
He’d been treated for drug abuse in the past. Grandmother Diana said he’d been diagnosed with a behavioral health condition just after high school and had struggled, but he managed to hold down a job. Other relatives said that Alex was schizophrenic.
Phoenix police said that prior to Tuesday’s shooting, they’d never been called to the house before, the young man had no history of mental illness or a criminal record. Crump, the Phoenix police spokesman, said the family was shocked.
“They knew that there was some drug abuse in the past. They didn’t suspect this now and this was completely out of character and they did not see this coming.”
[Photo by Morry Gash/AP]