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Fire damage poses challenge as police probe 5 Phoenix deaths

February 24, 2016

PHOENIX (AP) — Investigators were back at a burned Phoenix home Wednesday to try to uncover evidence from the charred debris and reconstruct what happened when a 26-year-old gunman killed four family members, torched the house and got shot by authorities.

Homicide detectives face toppled walls and other damage that will make it difficult to collect shell casings and trace the path of bullets, police Sgt. Trent Crump said.

“The scene is a mess,” he said.

Alex Arthur Buckner killed his parents and two younger sisters Tuesday, then shot at officers who tried to rescue the victims, authorities said.

His 18-year-old sister called 911 shortly before 5 a.m., pleading for help and saying her brother had shot her. The first officers on scene ran into the burning house because they felt they had to act quickly, but they faced gunfire and smoke and were able to pull out only two victims.

A tactical team stormed in nearly an hour later when the shots stopped, killing Buckner as he raised his weapon.

He killed his father, Vic Buckner, 50, mother Kimberly Buckner, 49, and sisters Kaitlin Buckner, 18, and Emma, 6. All the victims had gunshot wounds, but a medical examiner will determine how they died.

Police said they had never been called to the house before Tuesday.

A next-door neighbor said the family had lived in the home for about two years after moving from Oklahoma. James Graham said he was not close to the Buckners, but they chatted occasionally and never mentioned any problems.

Aside from what can be found in the house, investigators will process statements from officers, firefighters and neighbors as well as 911 calls from victims, Crump said. It likely will be weeks before any excerpts from the 911 calls are released.

Investigators collected evidence until late Tuesday and returned Wednesday. Crump didn’t know how long the inquiry would take.

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