Shooting Investigation Continues


The Jan. 24 shooting in Strawberry that left one man dead and another in intensive care is still under investigation by the Gila County Sheriff's Department, Detective George Ratliff said Thursday.

The detective said he is waiting on the final autopsy report from the Forensic Science Center in Tucson and results from the Department of Public Safety Crime lab in Phoenix to help determine what happened the night that Don Bearden died of a gunshot wound and Kevin Charles (K.C.) Mahaffey was wounded in the chest.

The night of the shooting, at the German Ranch Road property shared by the two men, it appeared that Bearden shot Mahaffey in the chest with a .45 caliber gun and then turned the gun on himself. Bearden's died from a gun shot to the heart, said Ron Penning of the Forensic Science Center.

Mahaffey was shot through the lung and was in intensive care at John C. Lincoln Hospital in Phoenix until Thursday. He is now in a private room and is listed in stable condition.

Bearden, 44, and Mahaffey, 32, were construction workers in the Pine-Strawberry area and lived in a pair of trailers on the same piece of property with Mahaffey's sister, Kelly. Kelly was apparently the only witness to the incident.

She and the two men had been moving her belongings into her new house on the property that day, said Barbara Mahaffey, mother of Kelly and K.C. K.C. Mahaffey and Bearden had built the house for Kelly.

"They bickered like brothers," Barbara said of the two men. "One minute they would be fighting and the next they'd be off to the store together."

But they were not fighting the day of the shooting, Kelly Mahaffey said Thursday. "We were just sitting here," she said.

Bearden had just been to the store for cigarettes, she said. "He just hung some of his clothes in the closet and he came out here," she said, pointing to a spot on the floor of her house between the TV and couch from where she said Bearden shot K.C. The shootings occurred at about 7:45 p.m.

"I didn't hear gun shots, I heard a 'poof, poof,'" Kelly said, struggling to remember. "Maybe I blocked it out."

She said she remembers running to the neighbors for help and her brother following her, but she has no memory of what happened to Bearden or how. K.C collapsed on the neighbors' back door steps. He was taken by ambulance to an awaiting helicopter for transport to the Valley hospital.

Services are being planned for Bearden for later next week. Donations are being collected for K.C. Mahaffey's medical bills at the Strawberry Market.

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