'Closer To Home': State Sen. Martin Quezada Has Another Experience With Gun Violence

By Ben Giles
Published: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 7:34am
Updated: Friday, May 22, 2020 - 7:38am

Arizona Sen. Martin Quezada
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Arizona Sen. Martin Quezada in July 2018.

For many, Sen. Martin Quezada’s tweet of an “armed terrorist” at Westgate Entertainment District alerted them to an active shooter in Glendale.

It was the Glendale Democrat’s second brush with gun violence, though this circumstance came closer to home.

The gunman shot three people at Westgate before he was apprehended by Glendale police. Quezada tweeted that he saw two of the shooting victims.

→ Prosecutors: Glendale Westgate Shooter Was Targeting Couples

On Thursday, he described finding them writhing in pain on the street outside his third-story home at Westgate.

Quezada said he was terrified.

“I always feared that this was something that was going to happen, even closer to home,” he said. “But while it was happening, I was like, 'Please, I hope this is not what it is.'" 

And he recalled an earlier loss, when a close friend was shot roughly a decade ago.

Quezada said he normally would’ve been with his friend Al on Friday nights. It was a ritual of theirs to go to the same bar at the end of the week.

For some reason, Quezada said he decided to stay home, so he wasn’t there when Al got caught in the middle of a fight.

“A fight broke out between two people that he didn’t even know, who, they were at that same taco shop,” Quezada said in a 2018 Senate floor speech. “One of them pulled out a gun and started shooting. My best friend Al was shot in the forehead.”

Al was 26 when he died, leaving behind a wife and two kids. 

It’s a story Quezada shared with his fellow senators while the chamber was voting on a watered-down version of Gov. Doug Ducey’s gun safety proposal.

"I always feared that this was something that was going to happen, even closer to home."
— Sen. Martin Quezada

The bill called for a court-ordered process to have a person’s firearms temporarily seized if they’re determined to be a danger to themselves or others. 

Ducey proposed the measure after a mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. But the governor faced strong resistance from Republican lawmakers, who took steps to weaken the bill before approving it in the Senate on a party line vote.

The measure never received a vote in the House.

Quezada was one of several Democrats to argue that lawmakers were missing an opportunity then to pass more robust gun control measures.

He’s not optimistic that his latest experience will change opinions at the Republican-controlled legislature, either.

“That didn’t change anybody’s mind. That was two years ago. And so, I’m not sure what it’s going to take,” Quezada said.

Quezada added that none of his Republican colleagues at the Legislature had reached out to him after the Westgate shooting as of Thursday afternoon.

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