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Phoenix Police Identify Victims, Suspect In Shooting, House Fire

deadly house fire and shooting scene
(Photo by Matt Casey - KJZZ)
Facing east near Sunnyside Avenue in Phoenix, firefighters work the scene of a deadly house fire and shooting on Feb. 23, 2016.

Phoenix police have released the names of five family members who were killed Tuesday morning.

Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said the four victims lived together with the suspect at a west Phoenix home where the fire and shootings occurred. He identified them as 50-year-old Vic Buckner, 49-year-old Kimberly Buckner, 18-year-old Kaitlin Buckner and 6-year-old Emma Buckner. The man police suspect killed the victims was identified as 26-year-old Alex Buckner.

Crump said Alex had no known mental health issues, and investigators said the suspect had no criminal history, but family members told investigators he had abused drugs in the past.

Authorities believe Alex Buckner shot his mother, father and two sisters before dying in a confrontation with police.

Investigators are working to identify a motive for the killings.

Phoenix police said they received a 911 call at approximately 5 a.m. from a woman claiming she had been shot during a domestic dispute, and the shooter was still shooting other residents at the home near 47th Avenue and Cactus Road.

Crump said first responding officers traded their guns for fire hoses and helped firefighters battle a blaze investigators believe was set by the suspect. While this was happening, Crump said they could hear gunshots coming from inside.

After about 45 minutes, a tactical team went into the home. Crump said the suspect confronted them in an unburned area.

"We know that we shot the suspect. Whether he was in the process of shooting himself or had, we don’t know that at this point, and we’re not going to know that until there is an autopsy," Crump said.

Fire damage to the home has made their investigation more difficult, he added.

"It is, as you can imagine, a scene that is a mess, including the fire and the damage that has occurred inside," he said.

The blaze needed to be put out a second time after it flared up with several firefighters standing on the roof as flames and smoke gushed out.

Phoenix police Chief Joe Yahner said Tuesday’s event was a unique situation. 

“We had police officers holding fire hoses, trying to knock down the fire so other police officers could do their job. Just a very unique situation. Really wish this could have turned out better, this is just tragic. This is a family that is just devastated,” Yahner said.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said the incident involved "unspeakable violence," but that the first responders' heroism gave residents reasons to take heart.

He praised the coordination of public safety agencies from Phoenix and neighboring cities.

Katherine Fritcke Producer, Morning Edition Katherine Fritcke is the Morning Edition Producer for KJZZ. Fritcke was born and raised in Scottsdale. After deciding to leave the Arizona heat, she graduated from Drake University in Des Moines, IA with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She is a self-proclaimed public media junkie who can't get enough of programs like "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me" and "Ask Me Another."