By: TARA ALATORRE –
FOUNTAIN HILLS – On July 2 around 10 a.m. the Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a fatal shooting located at Fountain Hills residence involving a 92-year-old woman and her 72-year-old son.
Anna Mae Blessing allegedly stashed two pistols in the pockets of her robe before confronting her son in his bedroom at their home located at 16800 E. El Lago Boulevard. Then she fired multiple rounds at her son, killing him.
Officials believe the altercation started because Blessing’s son intended to place her in an assisted living facility, and she did not want to leave her home, according the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
After she fired the weapon, Blessing then allegedly pointed the gun at her son’s girlfriend and the two women fought over possession of the firearm, according to reports from MCSO.
“The two struggled over the weapon when it was dislodged from her hand,” MCSO stated in a press release. “Blessing retrieved the second handgun and attempted to point it at the girlfriend who knocked it from Blessing.”
The girlfriend contacted MCSO after the altercation, and Blessing was taken into custody.
“It is always concerning when domestic issues escalate to violence or tragic outcomes,” Sheriff Penzone stated in a press release. “They are often isolated and neither predictable nor preventable.”
Yet, MCSO revealed that both Blessing and her son had made calls in the past few months requesting service to the home, expressing concerns about violence.
There were also 13 unsecured guns found by MCSO in the Fountain Hills home after the murder; Blessing owned two, and her son owned the other 11 firearms, said Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone in a press conference on July 5.
“It is always our responsibility to not only enforce the laws, but to try to support public safety to the best of our ability with the hopes that your can avoid situation such as these,” Penzone said.
Despite the past calls from the home regarding the tenuous relationship between Blessing and her son, Penzone said his office had no legal ground to remove firearms from an individual based on a “concern that falls short of a legal or lawful basis.”
However, MCSO will be conducting an internal review auditing the previous calls and body camera footage during deputies’ interactions at the Blessing home prior to the deadly shooting. The internal investigation will determine if past threats were “viable enough to justify a crime.”
“The purpose of this is to determine if our deputies acted accordingly,” Penzone said at the press conference. “If they took any and all action they’re lawfully empowered to do, and to see if there was an action that should of or could have been taken to mitigate this.”
Blessing is currently charged with one count of murder in the first degree, one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and one count of kidnapping.
The victim has not been named at this time, and the internal investigation is ongoing.