RIP Officer Erik Hite
Wounded Tucson police officer dies; suspect's bond set at $2.5M
Injured deputies identified
By Alexis Huicochea
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 06.02.2008
Tucson Police Department Officer Erik Hite died Monday at 12:53 p.m., a day after being shot by a gunman who led area law enforcement officials on an hour-long cross-town chase that injured two Pima County deputies, a Tucson Police Department official said. Hite had remained on life support since the shooting as his family gathered in Tucson.
The man who shot him, David Nickolas Delich, 25, is being held on four counts of attempted first-degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm and two counts of discharging a firearm at a structure, according to a Pima County jail official.
Prosecutors had requested that bond for Delich be set at $5 million, but a city court judge set bail at $2.5 million. Delich's next court appearance has been set for June 12 at 1:30 p.m.
Pima County Sheriff deputies Eric Cervantez and Tory Schwartz also were shot during the pursuit but have since been released from University Medical Center, said Deputy Dawn Hanke, an agency spokeswoman.
Tucson attorney Brick Storts, is representing Delich in the case.
The shooting spree spanned 20 miles from Tucson’s far Northwest Side to the far Northeast Side.
Authorities gave the following account:
The shooting spree began shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday when a man law enforcement identified as Delich fired into houses in the 8400 block of North Placita de la Manzana, near North Shannon and West Cortaro Farms roads. It ended more than an hour later and nearly 20 miles to the east, when officers stopped the suspect on Catalina Highway and arrested him.
The 911 calls about a camo-clad man shooting into houses started coming into the Pima County Sheriff’s Department at 9:49 a.m.
As deputies arrived, the suspect fled in a 1988 red Ford Mustang. Nobody was injured in the initial shootings.
A sheriff’s deputy spotted the suspect a few miles away, at North Oracle Road and West Magee Road, and began chasing him. Near Oracle and West Ina Road, the suspect fired, hitting the Deputy Cervantez in the right shoulder.
Despite being hit, Cervantez continued the chase south on Oracle but lost track of the suspect near Oracle and West River Road.
Deputies working on the East Side picked him up again near East River and North Swan roads. A chase continued with several officers trailing the red Mustang, including Tucson police officers who got involved after seeing the suspect near Udall Park.
As they drove east on East Tanque Verde Road, the suspect fired at officers three times: at Tanque Verde bridge and East Wrightstown Road; at Tanque Verde and North Castle Rock Drive; and Tanque Verde and North Jeanette Avenue.
No one was hit.
Farther ahead, west of North Houghton Road on Tanque Verde, officers laid down stop sticks. Before he hit them, Delich made an abrupt left turn, heading north on to a side street called North Tomahawk Trail.
At 10:27 a.m., as Tucson police officers approached, Delich shot Officer Hite, hitting him once in the head. The shooter’s move at this spot was calculated, said Tucson Police Chief Richard Miranda.
“From what preliminary information I have, I’m going to say it bluntly that Officer Hite was ambushed,” Miranda said Sunday. “There was some thought behind what the shooter did.”
Hite was flown by helicopter to University Medical Center.
Delich was able to flee again after shooting Hite and headed north up Catalina Highway. They found him again driving up Catalina Highway on the way to Mount Lemmon.
At milepost 1.5, he shot at Deputy Schwartz, grazing him in the head.
At about 11 a.m., more than an hour after the incident began, Delich pulled off the road near the Molino Basin campground and gave up. He was arrested and taken into custody.
Investigators don’t know why Delich went on the shooting spree, but Miranda said preliminary information indicates the houses he fired at and the officers he shot were not targeted, but rather random targets.
They found several weapons and large amounts of ammunition in the Mustang, he said.
They characterized the weapon he used as an assault rifle but declined to name the exact type. They haven’t estimated yet how many rounds he fired.
Some of his shots came from inside the Mustang, and others were fired from outside the car, Miranda said. The three law-enforcement officers who were struck were in their vehicles at the time, he said.
Pima County Sheriff’s records show the department has had contact with Delich in the past, Miranda said, but Tucson police have not. Former classmates said he attended Sabino High School, and Miranda said he still has a Pima County address.
A background check shows that Delich has been arrested on criminal trespassing, a marijuana violation and possession of drug paraphernalia. He has not spent any time in Arizona prisons.
Hite is a four-year veteran of the department and a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Miranda said. He is the father of a baby girl who is not yet 1 year old as well as a grown son who serves in the military, Miranda said.
Hite is the first local law-enforcement officer killed in the line of duty since August 10, 2005, when Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Timothy D. Graham was killed after he and another man fell into traffic on Ajo Way as they tried to subdue a third man.
The last Tucson Police Department officer to die in the line of duty was Officer Patrick Hardesty, who was shot to death while chasing a hit-and-run suspect.
Cervantez has been with the Sheriff’s Department for 7 months and has been placed on medical leave. Schwartz has been with the agency for 8 years, Hanke said.
All I can add to this is....in this case I fully and wholeheartedly support the death penalty