Neighbor: Woman wanted to die at hands of police

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Candice Salas Candice Salas

A woman a neighbor said wanted to die at the hands of police was shot dead by officers Saturday afternoon in a north Phoenix neighborhood. It happened just before 1 p.m. in the front yard of a home near Bell Road and 15th Avenue.

About a half dozen gunshots sent neighbor Candice Salas scrambling. 

"It was really scary. We didn't know what was going on. Our kids were outside playing at the time. We were just trying to find everybody and get down because we didn't know where it was coming from," said Salas.

Across the street, three officers had responded to a 911 call. The woman on the phone told police that a man inside the home was holding people hostage. When officers arrived, a woman in her 50s walked outside armed with a handgun. Moments later she was dead.

"We understand there was some sort of exchange between the officers and the female. She did not drop the weapon that she had in her hand. We understand that this individual may have called police herself," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos.

Martos said detectives found nine people inside the home, but that none were held hostage and none of the nine were injured.

Martos said police would not identify the woman until her family had been located.

Salas identified the woman as Laurie Wetzle. She said she had lost her dog grooming business and then her home. Salas recalled the details of a disturbing conversation.

"It was mostly like she was done, and she didn't want to do it herself type thing. I think depression had just gotten ahold of her so bad. She said it before, 'If I do it by cop, then I don't kill myself and I don't go to hell,'" said Salas.

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