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Call for mental health awareness after fire and shooting

Shooter and three others dead in series of attacks
Community responds to tragic shooting events over the weekend
Posted at 10:42 AM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 21:53:33-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Pima County Attorney’s Office is calling for better awareness of mental health and where to go for help. the effort keys to a series of attacks on a Sunday afternoon.

Shocking, puzzling---call the fire and killings July 18th what you will, but is there a chance to prevent that sort of violence? Experts came together at the Pima County Attorney’s office to say, “yes.”

Investigators believe Leslie Scarlett set his house on fire with his girlfriend inside. An autopsy showed Jennifer Fells had been shot.

Investigators believe Scarlett went to Silverlake Park and shot two EMTs as they waited in their ambulance. One of them, 20 year old Jacob Dindinger died more than a week later.

Scarlett returned to the fire scene, shot and wounded a fire captain, and shot and killed Cory Saunders, a neighbor who had been trying to make sure no one was in the burning house.

A few blocks away Scarlett rammed his car into TPD’s officer Danny Leon’s cruiser. Officer Leon returned fire from Scarlett and shot him, Scarlett died a few days later. Prosecutors ruled Officer Leon was justified to shoot.

In a news conference, Dan South, the Chief Criminal Deputy for Pima County Attorney Laura Conover said even though a past felony conviction made it illegal for Scarlett to own a gun he got one that had been sold in a way that leaves vague records at best.

“Our ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives ) partners did a trace and determined that gun came through a private party sale, which wasn't documented, which didn't involve Mr Scarlette years ago, and how that firearm ended up in the hands of a man bent on committing the acts that he did that day is beyond me.”

Neighbors say Scarlett was disturbed by his mother’s death seven months before in an accidental house fire across from Scarlett’s own house.

Laura Conover’s office brought together experts in mental health who urged people to recognize signs of mental illness and be willing to find help.

She says, “​​Almost always there is someone in a person's life, who has seen the warning signs, and just doesn't think it's their business or doesn't know how to take action.”

Conference participants say if you know someone who needs help, dial the Community Wide Crisis Line at 520-622-6000. If danger is imminent, call 911.


Pima County Attorney holds news conference on fire-turned-shooting