The fatal shooting of a 19-year-old woman by a stranger in her apartment jolted Gilbert, ranked consistently as one of the safest communities in America.
Gilbert Police identified the victim as Rachel Hansen, who died from a single gunshot wound at Chandler Regional Medical Center.
“We know that an unknown person entered Hansen’s apartment but identifying a potential motive is part of the ongoing investigation,” police spokeswoman Brenda Carrasco said in an email two days after the homicide.
“I do not have any additional or new information to provide at this time.”
Officers responded to a 911 call at 2 a.m., Saturday, June 4, at the Redstone at SanTan Village apartments near San Tan Village Parkway and Ray Road.
Rachel said in the 911 call that she was shot by an “unknown person” insider her apartment, police said.
Friends paid tribute to Rachel on social media, calling her an “angel” and “extremely sweet.” A memorial service was scheduled for June 12 – her 20th birthday.
She entered the foster care system at age 5 and was adopted by a family with 13 children and graduated from high school at 16.
Rachel started her own business that involved training, hauling and finding horses for customers and was studying to add real estate agent to her resume.
And she was remembered as a free and generous spirit who enjoyed outdoor activities.
“It was hard to have a bad day around Rachel,” wrote one person. “The sweetest person and no doubt a lot of peoples best friend.”
She had been planning to celebrated her birthday today with her family at Canyon Lake, one of her favorite places,
A GoFundMe account was set up to raise $15,000 for Rachel’s family. By Friday, 141 people gave more than $9,200.
With few details released, speculation about her death was rampant on social media, many tying her death to a horse she owned that was stolen and later found..
“She had received threats from the persons who stole her horse, they had been harassing her over posts she made,” a man wrote. “She was selling her things because someone had stole her horse and was demanding ransom to have it returned.”
A woman said, “I feel it was the people that stole her horse and made many threats. They wanted ransom money and was threatening her from fake Facebooks. It’s a ugly situation.”
And another women said, “There is NO WAY the people who stole her horse aren’t related to this. This is not a coincidence.”
Police remained tight-lipped if the speculations had merit.
“Identifying a potential motive in this shooting is part of our ongoing investigation,” Sgt. Paul Alaniz said.
Other social media reports showed residents were unnerved by the the circumstances for the killing.
“There is no video or security anywhere? So the killer is just out there?” wrote a person.
And a women commented, “I’ve been here for 2.5 years and all of a sudden I don’t feel so safe here anymore.”
But the majority of comments blamed apartments for leading to Hansen’s death.
“Apartments bring crime!” a man wrote. “Watch and see! Gilbert once bragged about their low crime rate. Keeping building these apartment complexes and watch what happens!”
Rent at the Redstone ranged from $1,650 for a one-bedroom unit up to $2,543 for a three-bedroom apartment.
Hansen’s death was the second homicide so far this year in Gilbert.
In January, Raeanna Ferguson, 22, was fatally shot in her rental home at the Carol Rae Ranch neighborhood.
Police arrested her roommate, Dwayne M. Toone, 46, on suspicion of killing the young mother.