Commander Greg Carnicle of the Phoenix Police Department was shot and killed in the line of duty on March 29, 2020, while responding to a domestic disturbance call. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Carnicle was one of several officers who responded to a home at 40th Drive and Pinnacle Peak after an argument between roommates escalated. Police said one of the roommates, described as a 22-year-old man, was acting “erratically,” refused to come out of the house, and opened fire at Carnicle and two other officers. The gunman eventually exited the house but refused to surrender his weapon, and was shot and killed by police, ABC15 reported.
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams described Carnicle as a “true hero.” Arizona’s governor ordered flags flown at half-staff statewide on March 30 in honor of Carnicle. He had served on the force for more than 30 years and had been planning to retire in a matter of months, police said. Carnicle is survived by his wife and four adult children.
Here’s what you need to know.
Phoenix Police: Greg Carnicle & Two Other Officers Attempted to Peacefully Remove One of the Men From the Home After His Roommates Reported He Was Acting Strangely
Sgt. Mercedes Fortune of the Phoenix Police Department explained during a morning news conference on March 30 that several officers responded to the home after receiving a call about a disturbance. They initially thought it was a family fight, before learning that the people involved were roommates. Sgt. Fortune said the police were called because some in the home thought that one of the roommates, a 22-year-old man, was acting “strangely.” They wanted him removed from the home.
Sgt. Fortune said the suspect was cooperative at first. But at some point, the man shut himself inside the house and refused to come out. Commander Greg Carnicle, along with Officers Marissa Dowhan and Alicia Hubert, entered the home and went up the stairs to confront the man. That’s when police said the man opened fire, shooting all three officers.
They managed to call for help and additional officers went in and removed Carnicle, Dowhan and Hubert from the house. Carnicle was pronounced dead at the hospital. The other two officers were expected to survive, although Sgt. Fortune said both women had long roads to recovery ahead of them.
Phoenix Police remained at the house and urged the gunman to surrender. He eventually came out of the house and was armed, Sgt. Fortune said. She explained that the gunman was shot by officers and was pronounced dead at the scene. She did not disclose the man’s name but said he had no prior contact with police, as far as she knew.
Police: Greg Canicle Loved Being an Officer & Wanted to Oversee Patrol Operations Before He Retired
Commander Greg Carnicle spent 31 years with the Phoenix Police Department. Sgt. Fortune described Carnicle as a “wonderful man” who loved being a police officer.
During the news conference on March 30, she explained why Carnicle had been on the team that responded to the Sunday evening domestic call. “Before he retired, he wanted this assignment. He wanted to be leading the operations for patrol,” Fortune said. “Think about it, he’s working weekends at 31 years of service. He really wanted to do that job.”
Phoenix Police explained on Facebook that Commander Carnicle had been months away from retirement. During his three decades with the department, he also served on the special assignments unit and the K9 unit.
As referenced above, Governor Doug Ducey ordered flags flown at half-staff on March 30. He praised Commander Carnicle in a prepared statement:
“Arizona is deeply saddened by the loss of Phoenix Police Commander Greg Carnicle. Commander Carnicle and his fellow officers displayed bravery and courage in the face of danger. They put their lives on the line to carry out their duty — with Commander Carnicle paying the ultimate sacrifice. His passing, just months before his retirement, is yet another tragic reminder of the dangers our officers face everyday to keep us safe. Our prayers are with Commander Carnicle’s family and loved ones and the Phoenix Police Department.”
There Has Been an Outpouring of Support Over Social Media as Friends & Well-Wishers Remember Greg Carnicle
Commander Greg Carnicle was a lifelong Phoenix resident. According to his Facebook page, he graduated from Cortez High School. On the Cortez High School Alumni Facebook page, a friend of Carnicle’s named Michael Profiri posted a photo from their teenage years and wrote, “Greg Carnicle my high school buddy. We will always remember you. Team captain. Homecoming king. All around great guy. Number 63 lives on forever in our hearts ???? #ThankYouCommander.”
Other Cortez alumni shared condolences in the hours after Carnicle’s passing. Many expressed love and support for his wife and children, and commented on the “senseless” and “tragic” nature of his death. Several remarked that Carnicle was two months away from retirement.
Phil Putnam Jr. wrote, “Greg and I went to elementary school together as well as Cortez, he was a great friend!! My family’s prayers go out to his family and to the hurt officers and there family’s as well, may Jesus look over you in this time of pain and loss!!”
Partners in law enforcement also took to social media to share condolences. Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone wrote on Twitter, “I have known Commander Greg Carnicle since our time at Cortez High School. He is a good man, kind and thoughtful and was proud to serve this community with the @PhoenixPolice. This is an absolute loss for our community. My prayers for his family and the Officers who are recovering.”
Col. Frank Milstead, the Director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, shared that he was “heartbroken” over the loss of Commander Carnicle, noting that they previously worked together. “I am sadden [sic] by the death of my friend @PhoenixPolice Commander Greg Carnicle. We served together in the Traffic Bureau and Tactical Support Bureau, while I was working at Phoenix PD. He was 30+ year veteran of the PPD. Via Con Dios.”
Phoenix Major Kate Gallego noted his commitment to serving the community. “No words are adequate to express my sadness for Commander Carnicle’s family and @PhoenixPolice. After a decorated career spent keeping PHX safe, he had his choice of assignments. He volunteered to be a Night Commander—this is the truest sign of the integrity of his character.”
Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams talked about the friendship she shared with Commander Carnicle in the hours after he was killed. “I can tell you this about Greg. I knew him for 30 years. He and I worked together in Maryville precinct and used to enjoy way too much Church’s Chicken on duty. To be able to stand here today and say that one of my good friends is lost is troubling. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. Keep the Carnicle family in your thoughts and prayers.” She also described him as a “true hero.”