Three people in Arizona are dead after a man allegedly shot and killed his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend before turning the gun on himself, an incident police are calling an apparent double murder-suicide. The victims, Danica Aiken, 29, and Eric Sands, 38, were allegedly gunned down by 24-year-old Taffari Celestine.
According to a press release from the Phoenix Police Department, officers just before midnight on Sunday evening responded to a 911 call about a possible shooting at an apartment complex located in the area of 20th Avenue and Hadley Street. Upon arriving at the scene, first responders reportedly found an adult male on the front lawn who appeared to have suffered multiple gunshot wounds. The victim, later identified as Sands, was pronounced dead at the scene.
A neighbor who heard the gunshots and called 911 told police at the scene that they “saw the suspect force a woman inside an apartment and then they heard shots,” according to the press release. After securing and cordoning off the area, officers with the department’s Special Assignment Unit entered the apartment and found an adult female inside. Later identified as Aiken, they victim appeared to have been shot and was pronounced dead at the scene. Celestine was also found dead inside the home from “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound,” authorities said.
“The investigation indicates that the suspect is the ex-boyfriend of the female victim and the male victim is the current boyfriend,” police said in the release. The investigation has since been turned over to Phoenix Police homicide detectives.
The neighbor who called 911 reportedly provided chilling details about the incident in a brief interview with Phoenix CBS affiliate KTVK.
“I heard like this loud scream, crying, asking for help [and then] I heard three gunshots,” the neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, reportedly told the station. “After that, I heard the gunshot again. That’s when the other gentleman (Sands) fell on the ground.”
The neighbor reportedly said that after Sands was shot, she believed she could hear Aiken attempting to get away as Celestine forced her inside of the apartment. Once Celestine and Aiken were inside, the neighbor reportedly said, she heard three more gunshots “and then it was silent.”
“At first I thought they were fighting, maybe knocked him out or something,” the neighbor continued. “When I zoomed in more you could see blood all over him. So I was like whoa no, this was not right. This was more than craziness.”
The neighbor reportedly said that Sands and Aiken had only recently moved into the apartment, but noted that she heard arguments taking place outside of their residence.
In an odd twist to the tragic series of events, KTVK reported that officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department also responded to the apartment complex because there was an elk calf at the scene. The officials “took an elk calf away in a carrier,” per the report. However, the department reportedly told the station that the animal died a short time later. No other details concerning the elk were released.
The Phoenix Police Department and the Arizona Game and Fish Department did not immediately respond to messages from Law&Crime seeking additional details on the matter.
[images via KTVK screengrab]
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