Savannah Graziano: Teen girl, fugitive father killed in highway shootout with police in California

Savannah Graziano, Anthony John Graziano
Savannah Graziano and father, Anthony John Graziano

An abducted 15-year-old girl, Savannah Graziano, and her father, Anthony John Graziano, a fugitive wanted in the death of the teen’s mother — were both killed amid a shootout with law enforcement Tuesday on a highway in California’s high desert, authorities said.

The fugitive father, Anthony John Graziano, 45, was pronounced dead at the scene, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.

The girl, 15-year-old Savannah Graziano, was taken to a hospital and died shortly before noon.

The girl was struck during the firefight as she got out of the passenger seat and ran toward deputies while wearing armor plating on her chest and a helmet, Sheriff Shannon Dicus said at an afternoon news conference at the Hesperia station.

Police did not say whether it was bullets fired by officers or those from the girl’s own father that killed her in the pre-noon shootout.

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However, the indicated that it will take “at least 24 hours” for new information to emerge due to the wide-spanning area where bullets were fired.

Graziano had been on the run since Monday morning after he allegedly killed his wife, Tracy Martinez, with multiple gunshots in Fontana, California.

Investigators had issued an Amber Alert after Graziano fled with his daughter, Savannah, in a white 2017 Nissan Frontier with California plates. Graziano was described as armed and dangerous.

The sheriff’s department said it received a call Tuesday morning about a vehicle matching the description of the Amber Alert that was triggered Monday for the teen. The call stated the vehicle was traveling southbound on the freeway in Barstow.

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Authorities caught up to the vehicle at the Main Street exit in Hesperia and there was an exchange of gunfire between a suspect and deputies. Witnesses of the shootout reported hearing a massive exchange of gunfire.

Deputies had been in pursuit of the father’s pickup truck, and multiple shots were fired out of the rear window during the chase.

The vehicle became disabled around Hesperia, and the firefight ensued. Dicus said the girl was wearing tactical gear as she exited a truck’s passenger side and ran toward the sheriff’s deputies. The deputies did not initially realize it was the girl who was running toward them, Dicus said, because she was wearing a helmet and a military-style vest that can hold armored plates.

Even though the only weapon found was in the truck with Graziano, detectives say it’s possible his daughter was also firing.

“There may be some information that the passenger was involved in firing back at the deputies and we’re still trying to confirm that at this point,” Dicus said.

Tuesday’s crime scene caused major backups along Interstate 15. The southbound 15 was closed at Main Street.

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