Phoenix man fatally shoots common-law wife, himself

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX – Police said a man fatally shot his common-law wife of nearly 30 years then killed himself at their home in west Phoenix Wednesday morning.

Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Manuel Olivas, 52, got into an argument with Maryann Valenzuela Fernandez, 52, in the bedroom of their home near 75th Avenue and Camelback Road at about 9:30 a.m.

Fernandez called out to her brother for help. He ran to the bedroom and forced the locked door open just in time to see Olivas shoot her, according to Thompson.

Olivas threatened the man with the gun then turned it and shot himself.

Fernandez and Olivas both died at the scene.

Neighbor Gail Bentz called 911 around 9 a.m., after she went outside to retrieve her newspaper and heard a gun shot.

"Then I heard three shots in a row -- pop, pop, pop," she recalled.

Thompson said an adult child and Fernandez's brother were the only other people in the home at the time of the incident.

The couple have seven children together. The youngest child is 7 years old.

Olivas apparently supported the family as part-owner of A&M Alternator Service, a car repair shop at 24th and Jackson streets.

Family members were shocked by the incident, telling 3TV Olivas and Fernandez seemed to get along.

It was also shocking for Bentz, who said nothing like this has happened in the 30 years she has lived in the neighborhood.

"I was very upset," she said. "I called my husband extremely excited and very, very emotional, and I was crying because I thought, 'I was just outside.' "