Bodies at shooting site too burned to identify
Two badly burned bodies found in the aftermath of an explosion in a Dome Valley residence have not been identified because of the condition of the remains.
The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a possible homicide following a standoff with a suspect and an explosion Friday afternoon.
Wellton police and deputies responded to a report of a murder at about 1:30 p.m. at the 22300 block of East 8th Street.
According to YCSO, a man called the agency and said he had just shot his ill wife at that location. He then hung up the phone.
When deputies and police arrived at the scene, the man allegedly shot at them from inside the residence, striking a law enforcement vehicle.
While the suspect reportedly continued to shoot, a large explosion occurred inside the home, knocking a deputy to the ground.
The YCSO special response team escorted firefighters as they approached the home to put out the fire caused by the explosion. Team members then discovered an undetonated improvised explosive device near the residence.
The sheriff's Explosive Ordinance Disposal team secured the explosive and searched the remainder of the residence. The team cleared the home's exterior and ascertained that no other hazards remained around the building.
However, the team could not immediately enter the house, which was built of brick, concrete and rebar, due to security doors and an interior steel door with steel pins. All windows were also built of heavy steel which restricted entry.
With help from the Tri Valley and Wellton fire departments, YCSO investigators finally gained entry into the home Saturday afternoon where they found the remains of two individuals and two dead dogs.
"Two deceased persons were located within the structure, but because of the condition of the remains due to the explosion and fire, we have not been able to confirm the identifies of the deceased," Maj. Leon Wilmot said Sunday.
"The bodies are burnt to a point we can't identify them. We have to wait for the forensic autopsies," he added.
The sheriff's office suspects the bodies belong to the two people who lived in the residence, "but we can't confirm nor deny it," Wilmot said.
He could also not confirm the relationship between the two people, although the suspect reportedly identified the victim as his wife.
Investigators were still at the scene Sunday afternoon collecting evidence.
"We're still trying to figure out the identities and why it happened," Wilmot said.
Investigators found the main bedroom and living room heavily damaged from the explosion and fire with the roof caved in.
They also located 15 five-gallon propane bottles in the same place as the two individuals. Two propane bottles appear to have bullet holes in them, possibly indicating the explosion was intentional, according to the YCSO.
The deputy knocked down in the explosion was taken to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for minor injuries and released.
"He's fine. He has some back pain from landing on his back," Wilmot said.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact YCSO at 783-4427.