Fontana police initially believed that 15-year-old Savannah Graziano was abducted by her father Anthony, who also died in the shootout on Tuesday. An Amber Alert was issued for Savannah’s disappearance, but California detectives are now questioning the abduction theory after it emerged that she likely participated in the shootout with her father.
On Monday, 45-year-old Anthony Graziano allegedly shot his estranged wife, Tracy Martinez, multiple times before firing at a nearby car. Anthony and Savannah had moved out of Martinez’s house recently.
Officers now believe that Savannah was sitting in the back of her dad’s truck when he fatally shot her mother. Martinez identified her husband as her killer shortly before dying, but did not mention her daughter being present.
Witnesses and videos corroborate that the teenage girl stayed still while her mom screamed. Footage showed Savannah sitting inside Anthony’s truck for 30 to 60 seconds before the shooting started, and the teenager did not get out of the vehicle once the shots began.
“She’s just sitting in the backseat,” Sgt. Christian Surgent said to the Associated Press.
On the day after the murder, a witness spotted Savannah’s father’s vehicle and alerted authorities, causing a lengthy car chase along a desert interstate with deputies. Shots were fired from a rifle in Anthony’s pick-up truck, but his car eventually became disabled after driving off the highway.
A shooter from his car also fired several rounds through a patrol car’s windshield and disabled another pursuing vehicle.
Anthony died in the truck, but Savannah was killed when she ran towards officers during the gunfire. The teenager was wearing a helmet and tactical gear at the time.
Authorities found tactical gear, rifles, handguns, smoke grenades and thousands of ammunition rounds in Anthony Graziano’s storage unit – which was all legally owned. Savannah’s younger brother told investigators that he and Savannah grew up around guns.
Authorities are determining whether Savannah was fatally shot by the officers or her father.
Police have not publicly released footage of the shootout amid the investigation, which is being assisted by the California Department of Justice.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.