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I-19 Killing: Mother mourns daughter shot to death

The suspect -- Mateo Zavala surrendered to authorities
Posted: 7:18 PM, Jul 01, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-01 23:35:05-04
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NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — A mother is mourning tonight for a daughter shot and killed as she traveled down I-19 near Green Valley early Saturday night.

A man and his three year old child were also hurt in the gunfire.

The suspect -- Mateo Zavala surrendered to authorities.

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Susan Stemper is dealing with the shock of a daughter stolen away in a burst of rage and gunfire but shocked too at the surge of support from friends remembering the love, kindness and faith in God that flowed from her daughter Marilynn Pacheco.

"And these people are coming to me now and telling me Marilynn was the first person I met in Tucson. She was my first friend. She helped he out. She gave me a place to stay."

There is a Go Fund Me account where friends are stepping up to help with funeral expenses.

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Marilyn Pacheco

But Marilynn Pacheco had a rocky relationship with Mateo Zavala. Susan Stemper says he sent an obscene Facebook message to tell her he didn't want to be with her anymore.

"And then follow that up with calling her all sorts of names and calling her a million times at three o'clock in the morning while she was asleep which made him more angry because he wasn't getting a response."

She says Zavala was in California but showed up uninvited and demanded to take Marilyn's daughter, Natalie, to the movies. He was turned down.

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Marilyn and her daughter

Susan Stemper says her daughter Marilynn was not trying to escape Zavala when she got in a car with a friend and that man's three year old daughter. She was just moving on with her life. She says Marilynn let Zavala know the girl in the car was not Natalie.

"And what her friend believes, was that was the go-ahead for him in his mind, to do what he did."

Court records say Zavala told a Pima Sheriffs Deputy he did shoot into the car. Marilynn Pacheco died of her wounds. The man and his daughter were hit too but their wounds were less serious.

Susan Stemper says she, and especially Marilynn's daughter Natalie would like to ask Mateo Zavala why---and thinks her daughter would feel guilty that the trouble she had with Mateo Zavala accidentally put other people in danger.

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Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing craig.smith@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.