Darlene Lyman of Mesa at first thought it was a car backfiring Wednesday morning. Then she thought her new sprinkler heads or pool pump had exploded.
Even when she found the dying man in the primer-gray Volkswagen that had crashed through her fence in the 2500 block of East Adobe Road, she didn't think the worst.
"I just thought there had been a car accident, then the officer came to the door to ask me if I'd heard gunshots," said Lyman, 56.
Nathan James Anaya, 25, of Gilbert was fatally shot about 5 a.m. after getting into an argument with three men in a small, dark pickup truck, according to Mesa police. The suspects are still at large.
Before the police arrived, Lyman said she and her husband, James, 57, ran to the car. Anaya's foot was still on the gas pedal and the racing car was spewing rubber and debris out behind it, Lyman said. Her husband turned off the ignition.
"When we opened the door we saw the young man inside," Lyman said. "He was breathing very heavily. He was struggling to get his breath."
Anaya was flown to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses walking near Lindsay and Adobe roads told police that after the argument, Anaya drove north on Lindsay. The truck followed. Moments later, the witnesses heard gunshots and saw Anaya’s VW crash into the fence as it was heading south on 26th Street. They saw the truck drive past the VW and go east on Adobe. According to Maricopa County Superior Court records, a warrant was issued for Anaya's arrest Friday after he failed to appear for a trial that was scheduled for March 25. It is unclear what charges Anaya faced.