Her big smile and outsized personality are what family remembered most Monday about Jennifer Fells.
Fells, a 36-year-old mother of three, was slain July 18 during a shooting spree on Tucson’s south side.
Police have said she was shot before being found inside a burning house.
“As one of the families that was affected by the events that took place last week, we’d like to start by sharing our condolences with all of the victims and their families,” Salyssa Alers, one of Fells’ cousins, said in a news conference the family organized.
“Jennifer was a vibrant, loud, fun-loving mom, sister and daughter, and she was taken from her children too soon,” Alers said.
Alers said she wanted the Tucson community to know that Fells’ family appreciated their support, including people in the Western Hills neighborhood where she lived. She also said the family in particular wanted to thank first responders who tried to help amidst the chaos.
“We would also like to express our gratitude to all neighbors and first responders who were hurt,” she said. “We would particularly like to acknowledge and thank Cory Saunders, who lost his life trying to save Jennifer.”
Alers reminisced about Fells’ vibrant personality and bright smile, especially when she was around her three children and extended family.
What does Alers miss most about her cousin?
“Her laugh,” she said, fighting back tears.
“She had just a loud infectious laugh. You didn’t have to even know what she was laughing about. You just heard her laugh, and you laughed too.”
Fells’ boyfriend, Leslie Scarlett, has been identified as the attacker.
Police have said he shot Fells, then set the house on fire. He then shot and wounded two EMTs at a nearby park before returning to the burning house and shooting at neighbors and firefighters.
Saunders was shot and killed, a bullet grazed another neighbor’s head and a fire captain was shot in the arm.
Scarlett’s rampage ended in a gunfight with a police officer. He died after three days in the hospital. The officer was not injured.