Police identify man who shot first in mass shooting at Surprise party
SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Surprise Police Department has identified the man who shot first during a party that left three people dead, including him, and four others hurt late Sunday night. The shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. in a neighborhood near Bell and Reems Road, just off the U.S. 60.
Surprise Police Officer Barry Bre’dell said during a news conference on Tuesday that 46-year-old Jason Hunt was invited to the party when a fight broke out. While he was inside the house, Bre’dell said Hunt started shooting first. He also said other party attendees also fired their guns but didn’t elaborate. All the weapons involved in the shootout were handguns, Bre’dell said. Surprise police declined to say if Hunt started the fight and did not name him as a suspect.
According to neighbors, Hunt was a U.S. Army sergeant and worked as a recruiter. However, witnesses provided a different perspective on what happened at the party. Hunt reportedly walked over to the house and was offered food and drinks. Family members said when he was done eating, Hunt unexpectedly started shooting. Witnesses added that the whole thing happened in front of several children. However, during the press conference, Bre’dell said no children were at the party.
“It’s tragic for the kids that’s what I look at, its tragic. It happened in the living room, that’s where it happened and all the kids were sitting there and for that to happen, that’s going to traumautize those children,” said one neighbor.
Officers say his motive is still unknown, but Hunt and two other people were killed in the shooting. Bre’dell didn’t update the conditions of the four people who were hospitalized. The two other victims have been identified as 38-year-old Carl Dinora and 41-year-old Conrradito Ochoa Navarro.
The wife of Navarro, Ruth Gonzalez, says she was sitting inside when Hunt walked in and sat across from her. “He just got up and shot the first victim, which was another one that passed away. Then from there, he turned the corner past one of my friends and past myself. Then as soon as he was next to me he shot, so I could hear the bang in my ear,” she explained. She says she then began crawling on the floor to get to safety.
Gonzalez said Hunt was not invited to the party and just walked in. She added there was no fight at the party. “He was quiet; he didn’t even introduce himself; he didn’t say anything,” she said. “He just had like a crazy stare on his face and started shooting.”
She says she and her children are now grieving their father and husband. “My kids want justice for my husband. I want justice for my husband. That’s not going to bring him back, I know, but it just hurts. He was my backbone, my everything. Now I don’t have him,” Gonzalez said. He leaves behind his wife and four kids.
In a video posted on social media, Hunt showed off guns and ammo days before the shooting. During the news conference, Surprise police were asked about Hunt’s social media posts and military background. “As far as his military affiliation, I’m unsure at this time, and investigators are working the social media angle to find out more about him,” said Bre’dell.
A neighbor’s Ring video shows a man shielding a little girl as he frantically rings the doorbell moments after the shooting. The little girl is crying as the man tries to comfort her, telling her, “it’s OK.”
Police said all of the people involved knew each other. Bre’dell says police will interview more witnesses and the investigation is ongoing.
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