Friends told AZFamily.com that Gilstrap was the wife of an airman stationed at Luke Air Force Base, and she had just learned she was pregnant with their first child.
Buckeye is an area popular with recreational shooters, Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall told reporters. He said both the Buckeye Police Department and the Bureau of Land Management had officers in the area because of the high number of people out shooting.
“There’s tons of ricochets. And our incident from yesterday was an indication that the round that was fired at our victim, yesterday, came from a completely different direction than where everybody’s firing right now. There are no regulations out here,” Hall said.
Police said there were hundreds of people out shooting Jan. 14.
Gilstrap was shot in the chest around 2 p.m. A pickup truck sped to a group of officers with Gilstrap in the bed; a group of people performed chest compressions on her in an effort to deliver emergency first aid. Witnesses told the officers they heard three distinct shots but didn’t know where they came from. One of the bullets lodged in Gilstrap’s chest. She was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but she died Jan. 15.
Hall said the area is filled with trash and debris, which makes it easy for bullets to ricochet and hit another shooter.
“And that’s where this whole situation out here is absolutely dangerous,” Hall said. “I would never bring my family out here, and I’d never bring my friends out here.”
Hall said investigators have not been able to pinpoint the shooter.
“The biggest challenge we’re facing in this investigation right now is that there are hundreds of shooters out here, and there were hundreds of shooters just south of where the incident occurred, which is a 1-mile stretch of area,” Hall said. “In trying to determine trajectory, and actually the round that hit her, it’s gonna be a very challenging investigation at this point.”
Others who frequent the Buckeye desert were shocked but not surprised that something like this happened.
“It’s something that would have been a matter of time, not if, but when it was going to happen,” said Hector Guzman, who has gone target shooting in the desert a few times.