The two 20-year-old men involved in the officer-involved shooting at Railroad Springs were hit 10 times, medical examiner reports show.
Father Rich Oszust found out his son Preston Oszust, who was allegedly unarmed, was shot eight times by the Arizona Department of Public Safety from the report. Preston's friend Marcus Gishal was shot twice.
Rich said that six months after the shooting, he wished he had more answers about what happened on Topeka Avenue that night. The medical examiner report was released in the middle of July.
“We don’t know what transpired,” his father said. “But my initial reaction is why? Why would my son, with no firearm, with no weapon, why would he be shot eight times? Why would they keep blowing him up?”
The two 20-year-old men from Flagstaff were shot after fleeing the scene of a traffic stop at a nearby Maverik and descended into the Railroad Springs neighborhood when Gishal allegedly fired the first bullet at police on January 23. Oszust had violated probation, according to DPS. Troopers are believed to have fired more than 16 times in the shooting.
When Rich saw his son in the Flagstaff hospital after the shooting, he knew his son had been hit at least four times. The autopsy report now shows the eight places he had been hit: twice in left arm, once on the left shoulder, one in the right arm, three times in the chest and once in the neck. Gishal was shot once in the knee and once in the back. Both men died from their injuries.
Four troopers shot at the two men and were placed on paid leave, with one allegedly sustaining a hand injury from Gishal’s weapon. The injured trooper was treated and later released.
The department has only released a few details about the case, and their official report has not been completed or released. A department spokesperson declined to comment for this article.
In January, Kameron Lee, a spokesperson from the department, said it was unclear “if and when” the officers would return to active duty. The bullets believed to have been fired by troopers peppered a nearby home, landing inches from the head of the mother, pierced the chair her daughter had been sitting in and missed their many dogs and cats inside.
Rich said his family members were still trying to cope with Preston's death. Rich is a Christian, and said his faith has helped him through his grief.
“Day to day, man, I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have Christ in my life right now,” his father said.
Rich said he also saw his son and Gishal hours before the shooting. Oszust and Gishal were good friends, Rich said.
Troopers told a neighboring resident that the two men had hid underneath their small deck outside as law enforcement and a helicopter searched the area. The bullet holes in the house and the trajectory of the bullets detailed in the medical examiner report suggests the two men were caught in a crossfire after the first shot was fired.
The medical examiner report also detailed the men had drugs in their system at the time of their death. Oszust had cocaine and fentanyl in his system when he died. Gishal was also found with marijuana, cocaine and fentanyl in his system.
The department released video taken from a Railroad Springs resident security camera showing what appears to be a firearm in the Gishal's hands as he runs through the neighborhood.
The department, unlike the Flagstaff Police Department and Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, does not equip their troopers with body cameras, and so there will be no body camera footage from the scene.
Rich hoped to see body camera footage from the scene, but said he will have to wait for the report for his answers.
"Why would they just keep firing? Why were so many bullets fired?" Rich said.
He hasn’t be able to get the images of his son in the hospital out of his mind, but said he needs answers to help him process his grief.
“To deal with the images is already hard enough,” his father said. “It’s not something I want to know. It’s something I need to know. I need to know what happened.”
Scott Buffon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.
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