Man accused of stabbing 12-year-old brother to death said he 'just felt like killing'

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- A man is in custody after his 12-year-old half-brother was found stabbed to death in the family's North Phoenix home Wednesday evening, according to police.

Police said Andrew Ward, 27, called 911 from a gas station near the home saying he had stabbed someone.

Officers arrived at the home near 35th Avenue and Deer Valley Road, and found that the man's younger brother, Austin Tapia, had been stabbed multiple times. Paramedics pronounced Austin dead at the scene.

Police said the brothers were home alone while their mother and two sisters were out to dinner.

"As they were leaving, they observed the suspect, Andrew, returning home on foot," Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department explained in a news release. "When the three returned they were met by officers who informed them of the crime."

Police said Ward had blood on his hands and clothes and a knife in his pocket when officers detained him.

Ward now faces charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. A judge set his bond at $1 million.

Detectives are still working to determine the motive and piece together the time leading up to Andrew's death. They said the things Ward told them were consistent with evidence at the home.

"When asked why he did this he said, "Honestly I just felt like killing,'" Martos said.

Austin was a sixth-grader at Paseo Hills School, a K-8 school that's part of the Deer Valley Unified School District. Counselors will be on hand at the school to work with his classmates as they cope with Austin's murder.

Statement from Deer Valley Unified School District:

The Phoenix Police Department reported that a Paseo Hills School sixth grade student was the victim of a stabbing incident after school yesterday and did not survive.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this deeply saddening time. Deer Valley's Crisis Response Team is on campus and is working with the sixth grade students and staff. Counseling is also available for all students and staff in need. The team will remain on campus after early dismissal today to support the community. The district provided a substitute for teachers profoundly affected by this tragedy. Quality instruction and learning in the classroom remains a priority.
A principal letter was posted on the school website for the community and a phone notification will be sent to parents after school today (early release 12:05 p.m). Parents are being encouraged to speak with their children tonight, ask them how they are feeling, and provide extra love and attention this week.

The focus for Paseo Hills School and the district remains on the learning, safety and support of our students.