GILBERT, Ariz. — Chris Pelkey wasn't supposed to die this way.
Pelkey devoted his life to the service of others in the military. It wasn't supposed to end at a Chandler intersection, a victim of an alleged road rage shooting.
Pelkey served three tours with the Army in the Middle East. Once he got back stateside, he went overseas again, this time for mission work. He caught malaria but still survived.
"He needed to know that his life mattered. He needed to know the things he did matter," said John Pelkey, Chris' brother.
Police said an altercation began Saturday afternoon at the intersection of Gilbert and Germann roads. Officers said 50-year-old Gabriel Paul Horcasitas shot Chris at the intersection when Pelkey got out of his car and started approaching him.
Horcasitas also struck a nearby car with a family of three inside, police said. No one in the third vehicle was injured.
Chris would be pronounced dead at a local hospital.
"Just disbelief. It’s an unbelievable story that happens to other people," John said.
His family describes Chris as someone who would bring a smile to any room. The favorite uncle to his nephews, who would be willing to help out whoever was in need.
His family said Chris's two life priorities were a commitment to his faith and his country.
"He made us extremely proud because he was always so selfless," Stacey Wales, Chris Pelkey's sister, said.
The family said Chris was leaving a church softball game before the road rage altercation. They do not know why Chris left his car.
"This was a series of bad decisions wrong decisions," John said. "If there was a decision to take a left out of a softball field instead of a right. For the other gentleman, to have a loaded gun in the car was not a good decision."
Police determined that Pelkey was not armed with or in possession of a firearm.
Horcasitas will be booked into the Maricopa County Jail for charges including one count of first-degree murder, one count of drive-by shooting, and three counts of endangerment.
Chris' family said that while they believe the charges are just, they said Chris would have forgiven his killer.
"Chris had the compassion to see beyond that action and see the person," John said.
The family hopes their story can prevent other senseless killings; to step away from the heat of the moment and to save other lives.
"I would love to think this is the last story that you guys ever tell like this," John said. "And senseless actions are not the answer when things don’t make sense."
Witnesses from the scene told police that Horcasitas pulled up behind Chris at a red light and honked his horn. Chris then got out of his truck and held his arms up with open hands in what witnesses said looked like a "what the heck" type of motion, police said.
Police said evidence and witnesses' statements indicated Chris did not step further than the tail end of his truck when he was shot once in the chest with the bullet hitting his heart.
Officials said Horcasitas told police that Chris first swerved in front of him after Horcasitas pulled into the road. Horcasitas said he pulled behind Chris at the red light and honked his horn as a friendly gesture, police said.
Horcasitas told authorities he felt endangered when he alleged that Chris walked up to his car door and tried forcing it closed after Horcasitas opened it to create a barrier.
Horcasitas said Chris then yelled out "I'm going to beat your a--" and that he would "slaughter" Horcasitas.
According to police reports, witnesses said there was no altercation between the two and that Chris never walked up to Horcasitas' door.
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