Friends say history of domestic violence led to death of mom on Valley highway

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Friends of a Surprise mother killed in a murder-suicide over the weekend say there was a history of domestic violence between her and the father of her children for years.

Police got a call over the weekend about a car that careened off of Loop 101 near 51st Avenue. An off-duty firefighter, who happened to be driving by, tried to help the couple but discovered they were dead.

Glendale police say both had been shot in a murder-suicide. James Tucker, 29, supposedly shot ex-girlfriend Shantel McCormick, 28, before turning the gun on himself and sending the car crashing off the road.

Friends say McCormick finally got up the nerve to leave Tucker a few months ago, after years of abuse.

“Back in 2006 he kicked in my door and pointed a gun at her and threatened to kill her then,” says Stacey Galbraith, McCormick’s best friend and roommate. “The domestic violence going on in that relationship was very intense. When they did break up, she was running for her life.”

Galbraith says they have been best friends since they were in fifth grade. She was there when McCormick met Tucker 10 years ago and has watched their relationship spiral downward ever since.

“He wasn’t always what he became,” says Galbraith. “She refused to press charges. She always wanted to co-parent and be on good terms. She didn’t want it to be as ugly as it became.”

The pair shared two children together. This weekend, Tucker supposedly reached out to McCormick, telling her he was coming to get her so they could pick up their daughters.

“She told me she was scared,” Galbraith says, crying. “And she hugged me and she kissed me, and I said, ‘Oh, it’ll be fine,’ and she said, ‘One hour.’ ”

Less than an hour later, Galbraith says she got a feeling that something was wrong.

“I texted her and asked her to tell me she’s still alive,” Galbraith says. “And she never texted me back. And I called him and he didn’t answer, and I kept calling, and I kept calling.”

Hours later, Galbraith got a knock on the door from police, who told her McCormick was dead.

Galbraith says Tucker threatened to kill himself after McCormick left him, but they never imagined he’d hurt her as well.

She says in the months since the breakup, they tried to get Tucker help, offering whatever assistance they could. According to Galbraith, his depression became overwhelming.

“I don’t know how this happened because we loved James too,” Galbraith says. “To think something so horrible happened? We’re grieving for both of them.”

Now, as she plans her best friend’s funeral, she is sharing McCormick’s story, hoping it may save another life.

“If you hear someone saying something like that, take it seriously. Do something,” Galbraith cries. “Save their family from this tragedy and pain. No one deserves this.”

The family has set up an account to help with McCormick’s funeral expenses and to help provide for her three children, including the two who were orphaned in this incident. If you are interested in donating, you can log onto www.gofundme.com and search for the name “Shantel McCormick.”

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