Friends were coming forward to say the 15-year-old they knew was nothing like the statements coming from law enforcement, who claimed the teen opened fire on deputies while kidnapped by her father who was on the run for the slaying of her mother.
“She was such a great person. She was like one of the best people I’ve ever met,” Amiee Luana Akpulonu said. “And she had such a strong faith. She was just a beautiful person.”
Choking back tears, Amiee Luana Akpulonu is still in disbelief that her close friend Tracy Martinez is gone.
Monday Morning, Fontana police say Martinez was shot and killed by her husband Anthony Graziano.
“I don’t know what was going on in his brain. I wasn’t very close with him,” Luana Akpulonu said.
Investigators say the couple’s 15 year-old-daughter Savannah was inside the truck when Tracy was killed by Anthony Graziano. The teen was with her dad when he drove away and went into hiding. Savannah and Amiee’s daughter Lilly had been best friends since first grade.
“I just hate that I’m never going to be able to hug her again. She was the only one that was really there,” Lilly Silver said.
Savannah visited Lilly at the hospital when Lilly was having brain surgery.
“She meant so much to me. She was this sweet kind bubbly person that could see the good in anyone,” Lilly said.
On Tuesday, Savannah’s life came to a violent end after she and her father were spotted at a gas station in Barstow. A witness says she appeared to be nervous.
Sheriff’s investigators say Savannah’s father led them on a pursuit down the 15 Freeway and at times, the claim Savannah fired at deputies.
“They’re bad mouthing Savannah, making it seem like she was a monster and she wasn’t anything like that,” Akpulonu said.
She said she is not convinced that Savannah shot at the deputies.
“I don’t believe she did anything. But if she did for any reason, I believe that she was forced,” she said.
She said she believes if Savannah did open fire, Savannah’s father Anthony had forced her to. He died during a gunfight after his truck crashed at the Main Street exit in Hesperia.
San Bernardino County sheriff Shannon Dicus says deputies saw the passenger get out of the truck, and run towards them.
The sheriff says Savannah was the passenger and she was wearing body armor and a helmet.
“Obviously he told her to put that on to protect her,” Akpulonu said.
Amiee and Lilly say Savannah should still be alive today. They believe she was under the control of her father.
“And I’m always for police but not in this situation. They killed a little innocent girl for nothing. She was asking them for help. She was running to them asking for them for help, and they killed her and they shouldn’t get away with it,” Akpulonu said.
Under state law, the attorney general’s office will also be conducting an investigation into the shootings.
Source: NBC Los Angeles