A man who deliberately drove his pickup truck onto a Phoenix sidewalk, killing the wife of a deputy sheriff and injuring his 11-year-old daughter, was dragged out of his vehicle and detained by witnesses, police say.
The suspect, Trent Ferree, told homicide detectives that he was driving around the area specifically looking for a victim “to run over,” and he claimed that the combination of “drinking alcohol and hearing vibrations and voices that made him want to murder someone.”
The woman who was killed was identified as Amy Chervenak, 47, according to Phoenix police. The name of her daughter, the injured girl, was not immediately released. Police say they did not know Ferree, who lives in Mesa.
Witness Mike Steinberg saw the fatal incident while coming home from Prescott. He immediately ran over to help.
“I was yelling at him to stop, and he actually stopped,” Steinberg told 12 News. “That was the time when the firefighter across the street came out of his house, took the guy out of the vehicle, and he was telling me to stay on top of the guy to make sure he didn’t move while he went over to the woman.”
Chervenak and her daughter were hit from behind as they walked back to their home after going to their mailbox. Ferree is accused of backing up his truck and striking the woman at least three more times before several neighbors stopped him and pulled him from the vehicle and held him until police arrived.
She was rushed to the hospital where she later died. Her daughter was taken to a hospital with “less serious injuries,” police said.
Chervenak was the wife of Maricopa County Sheriff Office Deputy Sgt. Steve Chervenak. Police say the evidence indicates the incident was a random act of violence and that the victims were not targets because of their relation to the officer.
Police said Ferree tried to hit two other people earlier that night.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Officer issued a statement Thursday:
We are saddened by the tragic death of the wife, and injuries to the daughter, of Deputy Sergeant Steve Chervenak. Our oneMCSO team is with Sergeant Chervenak and his family to ensure we provide all possible support during this difficult time.