A father and his two young daughters were found dead this morning in their Tolleson, Arizona home. Police are attributing the deaths to a murder-suicide.
45-year-old Alejandro Gallardo appears to have taken his own life by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Police report that Gallardo’s two young daughters, ages six and eight, were found alongside their father in their home in Tolleson, also shot to death. The three were reportedly found by an as-of- yet unidentified young female family member who then called police. The young woman was described as “hysterical” by the time police arrived on the scene at about 10.a.m. this New Year’s Day morning.
According to police in the small Phoenix suburb, neighbors at the scene reported hearing “crying, really horrifying crying” and screaming coming from the home at around 9.a.m. this morning. Neighbors also reported hearing what sounded like gunshots or fireworks around midnight last night on New Year’s Eve, but they simply attributed it to holiday celebrations.
Police Sgt. Obed Gaytan said that police did receive multiple reports of gunfire throughout city last night, but none were specific to the Tolleson home where Gallardo and his daughters were found dead this morning. Police also attributed the gunfire reports to New Year’s celebrations. Holiday celebrations may have masked the sounds of the murder-suicide.
Neighbors also reported that they had heard arguing and yelling from the rental home in the past, but that it was never seen in front of other people.
The children’s mother is currently staying with relatives. She was not home at the time of the shootings.
This is not the first reported case of the murder of a child by a parent in the greater Phoenix area in recent times, in fact, it is at least the third incident of this type in about six weeks.
Earlier this week a 33-year-old Casa Grande woman, Connie Villa, was charged with the Christmas Day murder of her 13-year-old daughter, Aniareal Macias, as well as the attempted murder of her ex-husband and three additional children.
A specific cause of death has not yet been identified in the Villa case, though police reportedly suspect that Villa poisoned the young victim with some type of prescription medication, as, upon examination, her three younger siblings reportedly had trace amounts of opiates in their systems. Interviews with Villa’s ex-husband, whom police say Villa stabbed, and the three younger children also support the theory that Villa poisoned her daughter.
Police investigation continues in the Villa case as well, with no apparent motive has yet been provided.
In mid-November 53-year-old Michael Sanders of northeast Phoenix, reportedly gunned down his 14-year-old daughter, his wife, Carol, and his brother-in-law, Tom Fitzpatrick, before killing himself. Sanders reportedly burned his wife’s body as well. Motive in that case has been attributed to a contentious divorce. Sanders’ wife, Carol, had reportedly modified an order of protection that she had taken out against him just hours before she was slain.
Police investigation into today’s murder-suicide involving a father and his two daughters is ongoing in Tolleson, Arizona. No possible motive for the tragedy has yet been provided by police. It was last reported that police are awaiting a warrant to search the home at which time they may turn up additional evidence to help them determine what could have driven Alejandro Gallardo to take three lives today.
By Michele Wessel