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Witnesses contradict suspect's account of Chandler road rage murder

Gabriel Horcasitas, 50, claims he was scared for his life when he allegedly shot another driver Saturday. But witnesses remembered the shooting differently.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — It was broad daylight when 37-year-old Christopher Pelkey was shot and killed in what Chandler police called a road rage incident over the weekend. 

Records released Monday show the suspect in Saturday's fatal shooting told police he was confronted by Pelkey outside his vehicle shortly before shots were fired. 

But witnesses at the scene of the incident near Germann and Gilbert roads told Chandler police they didn't see any altercation take place near the suspect's car before the victim was killed.  

The contradiction is one of several new details in the court records released Monday involving the death of Pelkey. 

Gabriel Horcasitas, 50, is facing multiple criminal charges for allegedly killing Pelkey, yet the suspect told investigators he was threatened by the victim and felt compelled to defend himself. 

The shooting happened around 3 p.m. when both drivers were stopped at a red light. Horcasitas' car was stopped behind Pelkey's truck.

During a post-Miranda interview with detectives, Horcasitas said he had just pulled up onto the roadway when he first encountered Pelkey as the victim swerved around him at a high rate of speed, court records show.

Horcasitas told authorities he believed he did not cut Pelkey off and alleged he did not see a vehicle coming when he merged onto Gilbert Road.

Detectives said Horcasitas didn’t initially admit to having honked at Pelkey, but later told them he had done it “as a friendly gesture.”

Witnesses told police they saw Pelkey exit his truck and walk toward Horcasitas’ Volkswagen when he allegedly said something and raised both of his arms.

Witnesses told police Pelkey was near the tailgate of his truck when he was shot in the chest. Witnesses reported hearing 1-3 gunshots. 

Pelkey retreated to his truck and collapsed on the pavement, police documents show.

RELATED: Phoenix road rage suspect caught on video by Valley Metro bus camera

Employees from a nearby business, Jacksons Car Wash, rushed to aid him but they said there was nothing they could do. Pelkey was taken to a hospital where he later died.

A different version 

Horcasitas told authorities a different story about how the situation played out.

Court records show Horcasitas claimed Pelkey got out of his truck and approached his vehicle and allegedly said “I’m gonna beat your a--.”

Horcasitas claimed Pelkey attempted to force the driver's door closed as he tried to open it “to create space and a barrier” between the two of them, documents say.

Horcasitas said Pelkey also said “he was going to slaughter” him. Horcasitas told police he was fearful for his life, so that’s when he “double tapped” him -- later explaining to police that meant he had shot Pelkey twice.

Records indicate Horcasitas provided a trauma kit to a witness to start rendering aid to Pelkey. It also said the suspect remained by his vehicle with his hands up and gun holstered until police showed up at the scene.

Police records say Horcasitas was adamant there was an altercation between him and the victim at the driver's door of his vehicle.

Based on multiple witness statements, detectives said Pelkey was shot near the tailgate of his truck and “never made it to Gabriel’s vehicle.” They also added that there were no reports the victim was armed or that an altercation had ensued at Horcasitas' car.

Forensic evidence backed the witnesses’ claim, as crime scene technicians were not able to find any fingerprints of Pelkey in or around Horcasitas' vehicle, court records show.

When detectives confronted the suspect about the alleged fight at his driver’s door, Horcasitas said he was describing the situation “the way he remembered it” and that it all happened quickly.

12 News attempted to contact Horcasitas’ family for comment, but a family member said they will wait for the legal process to play out.

Horcasitas faces charges of first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and three counts of endangerment.

Horcasitas’s next court date is scheduled for Nov. 19 and his bond was set at $150,000.

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