Witnesses and police say a man intentionally ran over three people, killing two and critically injuring the other, after a street fight early New Year’s Day on Tucson’s south side.
Later in the day, police detained a man for questioning in the case. He was taken into custody at a home in the 200 block of East Adams Street, near North Sixth Avenue.
“His involvement is unclear at this time,” Sgt. Chris Widmer, a Tucson police spokesman, said Wednesday night.
Widmer gave the following account of the homicides:
A man and woman were dropped off by a cab around 3:45 a.m. Wednesday in the 2200 block of East Sunland Vista, near East 36th Street and South Campbell Avenue. Shortly after the cab left, a white sedan pulled up and a fight broke out between the driver and the people on the street.
One of the men involved in the fight got in the car and ran over a man and two women.
“It’s unclear which party the suspect driver was originally with,” Widmer said.
A 47-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene, and a 32-year-old man was taken to a hospital where he died shortly after arriving. Police have not released their names.
The third victim, a 43-year-old woman, was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
Police believe one of the women was an occupant of the white sedan.
The hit-and-run driver drove away from the scene and abandoned the car in a desert area west of Campbell Avenue and Sunland Vista. Police searched but did not find him.
Witnesses described a chaotic scene.
Jessica Valenzuela, 26, told the Star she was helping clean up after a family party in the front yard of her mother’s home on Sunland Vista.
When the man and woman were dropped off by the taxi near the house, they both appeared to be very drunk, Valenzuela said. The woman couldn’t walk and kept falling and was missing a shoe, she said.
The pair started walking east on Sunland Vista and were kissing, Valenzuela said. Somehow the woman ended up naked and she and the man lay down on the side of the road, she said.
The white car drove up and the man driving seemed like he was trying to offer help to the man and woman, Valenzuela said. She said the driver said he was going to call police and the man on the street went up to the car and hit him.
The man then got out of the car and a fight broke out between the two men, Valenzuela said.
Then, the man who was in the street got into the other man’s car and ran over the three victims several times, she said.
Valenzuela said she saw the man get out of the car and kick the woman he had been with in the taxi and hit the other man.
She said the man crashed into two other cars, a fence and a tree.
Another witness, Hector Duarte, said he had awakened to use the restroom when he saw the car’s headlights and heard a loud noise outside.
When he went outside he saw the car driving back and forth, running over two women in the road, Duarte told the Star.
He also saw a man get out and kick one of the women at least three times.
Duarte said the man was driving with “anger” and “force.”
“It wasn’t an accident,” Duarte said in Spanish, adding, “It was a crime.”
The driver crashed into Duarte’s daughter’s truck parked on the side of their house when he ran over the other man, Duarte said.
“It was so ugly to see what this man was doing,” Duarte said.
Police are asking for help identifying the cabdriver who originally dropped off the man and woman in the neighborhood, Widmer said.
Witnesses described that car as a Yellow Cab.
Yellow Cab and other local companies have been cooperating with police but have not been able to identify the cab or driver, Widmer said. The driver is considered a “valuable witness” and anyone with information about the driver or the vehicle or any other information is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME (882-7463).