Mesa man arrested for 2nd-degree murder after lesson in gun safety takes deadly turn

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – A young mother is dead and her boyfriend is behind bars after police say a lesson in gun safety took a deadly turn of events.

Initially the call came out as a possible suicide but police say the boyfriend changed his story and now they believe he is responsible.

Det. Steve Berry, with the Mesa Police Department, tells 3TV, “He had said that he had been somewhere else inside the home and heard a gunshot.”

Police say 20-year-old Sheila Schurz was shot in the upper body although they would not say where or how many times. She was taken to the hospital where she later died.

Now police say her boyfriend, Bernardo Barraza, 21, is to blame. He has been arrested on a charge of second-degree murder.

Berry explains, “Some things in the story as to how it all occurred after she was transported away didn't seem to add up.”

Police say Barraza gave them misleading information first claiming Schurz shot herself but then later changing his story.

Berry says, “They had recently purchased the handgun and he had apparently fallen asleep with it or something like that. There was some discussion as to the safety of the handgun…during the course of that discussion or whatever the gun discharged and she was struck.”    

Barraza is charged with one count of second-degree murder, meaning it was not premeditated.

Investigators submitted second-degree charges instead of manslaughter or accidental death but have not explained why.

Police say there is no indication that the couple fought before Schurz was shot. The couple lived together in the apartment near McKellips Road and Mesa Drive with children from previous relationships although no kids were home at the time of the fatal shooting.