DEATH VALLEY: Phoenix Police Won't Label Murder a Hate Crime but Suggest There Were Racial Overtones
Police say white 39-year-old Kelley Jaeger and her black friend, 48-year-old Jeffrey Wellmaker, were walking together in Palma Park at 12th Street and Dunlap Avenue when a man began harassing them.
The man -- described by police as white, heavily tattooed, and with a shaved head -- asked Wellmaker, "What are you doing with that white woman?"
The couple ignored him and kept walking.
Shortly after the confrontation in the park, Wellmaker tells police that the couple saw the man in the passenger seat of a white sedan as it drove by the pair near Fourth Street and Puget Avenue.
Wellmaker says that's when the tattooed man pulled out a shotgun and fired two shots, killing Jaeger.
Phoenix police spokesman James Holmes says the shooting is not being investigated as a hate crime because it could skew the focus of the investigation.
"The suspect could just be some bald guy with Donald Duck tattoos on his chest," Holmes says. "We just don't have enough information to call it a hate crime and isolate a single group."
Anyone with any information about the incident is encouraged to call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6151.