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2 dead, several injured, children missing after series of shootings in Tucson

Police in Tucson said they are asking the public if anyone knows the location of up to three children linked to the house at the center of Sunday's shootings to contact the authorities. Photo courtesy of Tucson Police Department Sgt. Richard Gradillas/Twitter
Police in Tucson said they are asking the public if anyone knows the location of up to three children linked to the house at the center of Sunday's shootings to contact the authorities. Photo courtesy of Tucson Police Department Sgt. Richard Gradillas/Twitter

July 19 (UPI) -- Authorities in Texas said at least two people were killed, several were injured and at least two children were missing in a series of connected crimes that involved a burning house and two shootings carried out by the same suspect.

"This is both a highly tragic, really horrific incident with many unknowns at this time that is going to involve a lengthy and complex investigation," Tucson police chief Chris Magnus told reporters during a press briefing Sunday night.

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There are three crime scenes, two deceased, five people injured, including the suspect, and between two and three children unaccounted for, he said.

The incident began at around 3:45 p.m. Sunday when the Tucson Fire Department was responding to a report of a house fire in the 1,200 block of East Irene Vista while at the same time emergency personnel were responding to an unrelated medical call at nearby Quincie Douglas Park.

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As the fire department deployed to the residence on fire, a man driving a silver SUV exited his vehicle at the park and approached an ambulance and opened fire through the driver's side window, striking the EMT driver in the head and the EMT in the passenger seat in the arm and chest before fleeing the scene.

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The injured EMT in the passenger seat, a 21-year-old woman, called for emergency assistance and provided a description of both the vehicle and the suspect, Magnus said, as the suspect drove to the residence on fire where firefighters attempted to put out the blaze with the assistance of neighbors.

At the scene, the suspect excited his vehicle and opened fire on the crowd, striking a firefighter in the arm, a 44-year-old neighbor fatally in the head and grazing the head of a second neighbor.

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As he fled, an officer in a police cruiser responding to the shooting spotted the silver SUV, which then rammed into his police car, disabling it, Magnus said.

The officer then exited his vehicle and was met with gun fire from the suspect. The officer returned fire and hit the suspect, bringing the chaotic scene to an end, Magnus said.

The police chief said the 20-year-old AMR EMT driver shot in the head was in "very critical condition," the 21-year-old AMR EMT passenger was stable and the neighbor grazed by a bullet was "in good condition." A Tucson Fire Department captain who was shot sustained a minor injury.

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The suspect, who was identified as a 35-year-old man, was in very critical condition at a local hospital, he said.

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Meanwhile, authorities also discovered the body of an unknown victim in the house where the fire was reported.

"We don't know the sex of that individual or that person's relation to the suspect," he said. "All we know is that that person inside the house is deceased and badly burned."

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Another factor complicating the situation is that either two or three children are associated with the residence and are unaccounted for, he said.

"At this point their whereabouts are unknown," he said, calling on anyone who may know where they are to contact the authorities.

Chuck Ryan, chief of the Tucson Fire Department, tweeted late Sunday that the injured firefighter who was shot during the shooting has since been released from the hospital.

"We are shocked and saddened at this senseless act, and we are praying for our injured partners from AMR Ambulance," he said.

Mayor Regina Romero called on the Tucson community to think on and pray for the victims of the shooting.

"This was a horrific and senseless act of violence," she said in a statement. "I have spoken with both Chief Magnus and Chief Ryan and let them know that they have my full support with anything they need during this difficult time."

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