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6 dead in Yuma, Ariz.; gunman, 73, upset over divorce case, officials say

Image: Investigators check a vehicle thought to be that of a man suspected of shooting five people
Investigators check a vehicle thought to be that of a man suspected of shooting five people Thursday in Yuma, Ariz. and the Wellton-Mohawk Valley. The man allegedly took his own life in the vehicle found in the desert approximately 13 miles northeast of Yuma.Randy Hoeft / AP
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A 73-year-old gunman apparently upset over his divorce case went on a shooting spree Thursday around Yuma County, Ariz., killing six people including himself and the attorney representing his ex-wife, officials said.

Another person was injured and flown to a Phoenix-area hospital.

Authorities identified the suspected shooter as Carey Hal Dyess of Yuma. Yuma County Sheriff's deputies found Dyess with a self-inflicted gunshot wound near Blaisdell and Highway 95 around 10:47 a.m., about six hours after the first shooting in the rampage was reported.

This is not a random act," Yuma Police Chief Jerry Geier said. "These victims were targeted."

Earlier, the gunman shot attorney Jerrold Shelley in his downtown Yuma law office, Geier said. Shelley represented Dyess' ex-wife in their 2006 divorce, Dyess' fifth.

Yuma police spokesman Clint Norred told the Sun that the shootings were connected, but he would not confirm the identities of all the victims.

Four fatalities took place in the county before Dyess shot himself.

Some of the victims were friends and relatives of the gunman, Mayor Alan Krieger told Reuters by telephone.

Details of the incident were sketchy, but Krieger and police said the shootings unfolded at six locations in and around the city.

Krieger said the gunman's motive was not entirely clear but that he was believed to be upset over a divorce case.

Court records show Dyess was involved in two civil court cases, one in Yuma and one in nearby Wellton. A judge issued an order of protection against Dyess in one of the cases in 2006, and a court clerk said it stemmed from Dyess' wife divorcing him.

Court records also show Dyess' previous four divorces all happened in Washington state.

The Sun said Sheriff’s deputies and Wellton police were called to the first scene at about 5 a.m. after a woman, a friend of Dyess' ex-wife, was reported shot four times in the face at Avenue 23E and Old Highway 80. David Rodriguez of the Wellton Police Department said the woman was flown to a Phoenix-area hospital, but he did not know her current condition.

A second victim, a fatality, was found around 8:20 a.m. at a home near Avenue 35E and Highway 80.

Around 9:21 a.m., the Yuma Police Department responded to a shooting in the 300 block of 2nd Avenue in Yuma, where Shelley was killed.

Two more shootings were later reported in the Wellton area, where an adult man and woman were found dead inside a small farm house.

Another victim was found at Avenue 36E and Highway 80, before the report of Dyess' self-inflicted gunshot came in, police told the Sun.

The Yuma County Courthouse and schools in the area, including Roosevelt, Fourth Avenue Junior High and the Post building, were placed under a lockdown, which was later lifted.

Yuma attorney Amanda Taylor described Shelley as a good man dedicated to his Mormon beliefs. Shelley was wrapping up a long career.

"He was retiring. He literally was packing up his office today," Taylor said. "He was an excellent family man. Well-respected in this community. Very kind. I'm just sick. I've lost such a good friend."

She said Shelley's wife also worked in the office, and that they have two grown children.

Attorney Vida Flores, who with Taylor worked with Shelley on family court cases for years, told The Arizona Republic that witnesses reported the gunman did not want to shoot Shelley's secretary, "so he told her to get down. Then he shot Jerry."

Shelley also represented three sets of brothers who sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson after accusing a priest of repeatedly raping them when they were children.

Yuma Presiding Judge Andrew Gould issued a statement early Thursday afternoon: "We are thankful that those within the courthouse are safe but we are shocked and saddened at the violent acts that have occurred in our close-knit community."