Family says intruder killed 'Native American trailblazer'

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Phoenix police are searching for a gunman after 78-year-old Jess Sixkiller was shot and killed inside his home near 55th Avenue and Camelback Road early Friday morning.

[READ: Police searching for suspect after man found dead in W. Phoenix home]

The man's daughter, Janell Sixkiller, said her father was an icon in the Native American community and a former detective with the Chicago Police Department. She said he was one of the first Native Americans on the CPD in the middle of the last century. 

Phoenix police officer James Holmes said police received a frantic 911 call from the Sixkiller's wife at about 3:15 a.m. Friday The woman said she was hearing noises and believed someone was breaking into their home. She said her husband was in another room. 

While she was still on the phone with the dispatcher, she said she heard several gunshots.

She stayed where she was, afraid for her life, and never saw an intruder.

"Good for her. She remained where she was hidden in the bedroom as she was talking to 911. We have no description whatsoever. We don't know a motive. This lady is only telling us that she heard one person speaking, possibly in broken English, indicating something about police," said Holmes. 

Officers arrived and got the woman out of the house. They then searched the home and found her husband dead from a gunshot injury.

Police said there were signs of forced entry, but they have not located any suspects.

Detectives are investigating the man's death as a homicide.

Family members said the couple have been married for nearly 60 years and have lived in the home for decades. They don't know why anyone would target the couple.

"My mother is in palliative care with pancreatic cancer. They gave her until December. They fought side by side to get her to this last time that we have. We were living with cancer. Still battling with it and these buds took him out! Took an important part of the circle that will never be complete again," said Janell through her tears. 

"We have absolutely nothing to go on at this point," Holmes said. "We believe that she heard maybe one person inside of the home, yelling what she thought might have been 'police, police,' but that person was long gone by the time we got here."

Police are asking for the public's help as detectives continue to investigate.

"We believe that there's somebody out there that might have some information concerning this homicide," Holmes said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Phoenix Police Department or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.

Copyright 2015 KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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