Zavala

Mateo Zavala

A California man accused of shooting a Tucson woman to death in Green Valley Saturday night was arguing on the phone with her seconds before the incident.

According to Pima County court records, Mateo Zavala, 21, and Marilynn Pacheco, 25, used to date and on Saturday, he watched Pacheco and a 29-year-old friend leave her mother's house with the friend's 3-year-old daughter and then followed them on Interstate 19 when they left for Eloy.

Zavala traveled from California to see Pacheco's 7-year-old daughter without Pacheco's permission and began following them from Rio Rico after he was denied permission to take her daughter to the movies, court documents indicate. 

Pacheco's friend told police Zavala and Pacheco were arguing on the phone when he suddenly heard the back window break and felt a burning sensation in his neck, court documents state. 

After driving onto the median near Esperanza Boulevard to escape Zavala, the man said he could see Pacheco was bleeding heavily from her head and he grabbed his daughter from the backseat and began to run toward the off-ramp. Court documents state Good Samaritans picked them up and took them to the Arizona Family Restaurant's Easy Street Lounge.

Zavala surrendered to a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was the first one on the scene. Pacheco was pronounced dead at Banner University Medical Center. Her friend, who was shot in the neck, and his daughter, who was shot in the leg, were treated at the hospital and released.

Zavala told a Pima County Sheriff's Office deputy Pacheco shot at him when he pulled alongside her because she thought there was a girl inside, court documents state. Zavala admitted he shot at the car, but he wasn't sure how many times. 

Witnesses who called 911 reported seeing one gunman. Callers reported seeing a gunman shooting from inside a Jeep Cherokee into a red sedan, shooting after getting out of the Jeep at the median and then reaching into the sedan, the court reports state. 

The shooter was later identified as Zavala, according to the report.

When asked Monday afternoon if Zavala was the only shooter, DPS Trooper Kameron Lee said authorities "can’t confirm that right now."

Zavala remains in the Pima County Adult Detention Center on $1 million bail. He is being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, endangerment, three counts of aggravated assault and one count of drive-by shooting.

Kim Smith | 520-547-9740

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Assistant Editor Kim Smith moved to Arizona from Michigan when she was 16. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism in 1989. She has worked at seven newspapers of varying size in Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

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