Woman, 2 children shot to death at Phoenix apartment complex

Police say a man shot and killed a woman and two children at an apartment complex in Phoenix before getting into a shootout with officers.

Sgt. Jonathan Howard stated officers responded to a report of a shooting at an apartment complex on the 1600 block of East Highland Avenue, at about 3:45 p.m. on Monday.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found an adult woman deceased from apparent gunshot injuries in the parking lot. Howard says officers tried to talk to the suspect, who had barricaded himself inside an apartment unit.

Investigators say the suspect shot and killed the 38-year-old woman, who is now identified by Phoenix Police as Iris Ross.

Several hours later, Howard says the man began shooting at officers. One officer was injured by gunfire. After a brief exchange of gunfire, the suspect was taken into custody. The 45-year-old man did not appear to be injured.

Police then found the bodies of a 10-month-old girl and an 11-year-old boy inside the apartment. The girl and boy have now been identified by Phoenix Police as Anora Ross and Nigel Ross, respectively.

The 46-year-old officer with 23 years of service on the force was transported to an area hospital in stable condition.

Authorities say an early investigation indicates this is likely a domestic violence incident.

People living in the apartment complex are reacting to news of the incident.

"It's kind of crazy, just because it's supposed to be a holiday for your family and getting together," said Sierra Scott, whose mother lives at the apartment complex.

"I've never seen anything like this before," said Kristen Alexander. "All of our neighbors seem normal and nice and we've never had a problem with anybody here."

On Tuesday night, St. Joseph's Outpatient Surgery Center issued a statement on the incident. Iris Ross was a worker for the institution.

The statement read:

“We are heartbroken by the loss of this beloved executive and outstanding leader and we are deeply saddened by the loss of her two young children. Iris was a fabulous person with a huge heart and we are honored to have had her as part of our family.”

Experts weigh in

Experts are weighing in on the tragic incident Tuesday.

"With the holiday, domestic violence tends to be somewhat more aggravated," said Thor Eells, Executive Director of the National Tactical Officers Association. "People that are estranged feel a little bit more emotional, and sometimes reacting out of emotion, you can have these tragic outcomes and consequences."

Eells said Phoenix Police's tactics fall right in line with national expectations, in a situation like this.

"The first thing that comes to mind is to try and gather both information while you're doing your very best to calm the emotions that are certainly intensified," said Eells.

Experts said while emotions can lead to questions of mental health, they said they have made progress in recognizing how to handle that in negotiations, during a standoff.

"Ultimately, it really doesn't change the dynamic of it an individual is mentally ill or not," said Eells. "If they pose an immediate threat to an innocent person, the law enforcement officer has the duty and obligation to act and protect them."

Eells said negotiators need to keep it simple, and never make assumptions, as they never really know what lies inside.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.