An ‘altercation’ on the road resulted in Pamela Rae Martinez, 60, being shot and killed.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Pamela Rae Martinez did not like photos taken of herself, but a picture she took minutes before she was murdered gave a face to the man accused of killing her.
RELATED: Valley food delivery driver photographed her killer before she was murdered, police say
The 60-year-old Glendale resident snapped a cellphone picture of Rusty Raymond French after “some sort of altercation” while on the road minutes before he shot and killed her, the Glendale police department said.
“She did not deserve that,” said Monique Daniels, Martinez’s daughter. “She never made it home because she was taken. She was less than 3 minutes away.”
From delivering food to being murdered
Daniels last saw her mother around 5:30 p.m. on June 11th. She is seven months pregnant, and her caring mother delivered drinks to suffice her soda craving at the home they shared, while she was out doing food deliveries.
At approximately 7:02 p.m. Martinez told her boyfriend via text message she was leaving Dairy Queen to drop off an order, court records said.
Around 7:11 p.m. Daniels said her mother called her and asked to pack her a bag. Martinez was planning to spend the night at her boyfriend’s house and said she would pick it up in 20 minutes.
At 7:15 p.m. Uber Eats confirmed with police Martinez delivered her last order.
But Martinez never made it home.
Glendale officers responded to reports of a person injured following an accident just before 7:30 p.m. on 61st Avenue, just north of Bell Road, the department said.
Martinez was found in distress and non-responsive inside her car that had veered off the road into a landscaping area, officials said.
The car was locked. Officers used a hammer from a witness and broke the driver’s window and pulled Martinez out to render her aid.
Officers noticed the passenger window was all the way down, but a small tree prevented access for first responders to help Martinez from that side of the vehicle, court records say.
Paramedics could not save the single mother of two, and grandmother of four.
Leaving behind a legacy
At 60 years old, Martinez was stronger and healthier than ever.
“She loved to work out, she loved health, she was a bodybuilder up until 59,” the daughter said. “She had at least 40 more years if not more, to go.”
Every morning, Martinez drank a vegetable smoothie accompanied by a dozen of vitamins, Daniels said.
As far back as she remembers, her mother was always active, even coaching her softball and basketball teams while she attended West Phoenix High School, where Martinez was a teacher at.
“She was also taught elementary,” Daniels said. “But in high school, sometimes it was hard because she had all of us running and going nonstop. She always ingrained on us that it wasn’t just sports what she was teaching us, but life lessons.”
To fight, push through, and reach your goals are teachings Daniels said she lives by now.
Their father died when she was young, so Martinez was forced to raise her two daughters by herself. Something Daniels found inspirational. Teachings she said are helping her cope with her loss.
“Our whole life she’s been a fighter, she’s been so strong, and I told my husband that she solved her own homicide,” Daniels said.
One picture leads to arrest
It’s still unclear what led to the shooting, but Glendale police believe it may have been a result of “road rage.”
The suspect, 62-year-old Rusty Raymond French, is seen on surveillance video from a nearby restaurant driving south on 61st Avenue, north of Bell Road when he made a left turn onto a dirt parking lot, court records said.
Martinez’s car was seen heading north on the same stretch of road when she turned right onto the parking lot behind French, documents detail.
Records suggest “no altercation” can be seen on that camera, but somehow the cars ended up in opposite direction.
A witness told police he was driving on 61st Avenue when he observed Martinez’s car parked along the west curb facing northbound. This person said a van facing southbound was parked next to the vehicle, court documents said.
The witness said a white man, believed to be French, was standing outside Martinez’s front driver-side door.
“When that witness called out to them, then man got into it’s van and drove off,” said Officer Tiffany Ngalula. “That’s when the vehicle just slowly drove off into the landscaping.”
During their investigation, detectives found a photograph on Martinez’s phone of a white man, taken at 7:22 p.m., minutes before she was shot and killed.
“The photograph that she took was of the van that the witness described, and of a man, sitting in his van,” Officer Ngalula said. “Had she not done that, we would not know who her shooter was.”
Police identified the man in the photograph as French, four days after the shooting when the Arizona Department of Transportation conducted a facial recognition search.
On June 15th, French was taken into custody after a vehicle matching the description of the witness and seen in the photo, was found parked outside the suspect’s home.
In a post-Miranda interview with detectives, French initially did not disclose being near the shooting scene. But when he was confronted with the photograph, that had geolocation, records said he “reported that it was him in the photograph.”
“Rusty claimed to have no knowledge of the incident and believed he may have blacked out,” court documents said.
When detectives questioned French about the photograph and asked if he believed Martinez’s cellphone was a firearm, “Rusty replied and said something to the effect that he would tell [the detective] if he had a self-defense claim, but he doesn’t.”
French allegedly “showed no remorse for the incident,” during his first interview with police.
Court documents suggest Martinez died from a gunshot wound. A bullet recovered from her injury matched a handgun found in French’s home.
He was taken into custody on June 23rd and is now facing second-degree murder charges.
Daniels said her mother solved her own homicide, that’s something she is proud of.
“He took from us a person that we can never get back,” she said. “Getting justice is great and all, but doesn’t fix anything, she is not coming back.”
“I would like her to be remembered as a strong, motivated, determined woman, who did everything and anything she could to make sure she made it,” Daniels said.
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