Man was trying to "squeeze the demons out of the young girl."
By Elias C. Arnold
The Arizona Republic
PHOENIX, Ariz. — A 48-year-old Phoenix man whom authorities say was choking his 3-year-old granddaughter during an exorcism early Saturday died after struggling with police officers who went into the home to investigate, Phoenix police said.
Police reportedly found Ronald Marquez, of Phoenix, shirtless and choking his granddaughter as her 19-year-old mother, naked and bloody, looked on. The bloodied girl was gasping and screaming as her mother chanted and held a religious picture of some kind, police said.
"It's very bizarre, (a) very unusual and pretty horrific situation this young child was involved in," said Sgt. Joel Tranter, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Police responded about 7:30 a.m. to a check-welfare call at a house in the 2200 block of North 28th Street, north of McDowell Road.
A relative reported she thought an exorcism was going on at the family home after one was performed two days earlier, police said.
Police said officers heard yelling from outside the house, gained entry through a back door and rushed to a bedroom.
Two officers forced the door open slightly to find Marquez sitting on a bed blocking the door, police said.
The man held the girl in a headlock with one arm as he was squeezing her torso with his other arm, causing her to gasp and scream, police said.
Investigators later learned the man was trying to "squeeze the demons out of the young girl," Tranter said.
One officer made his way into the room, confronted Marquez and touched him with a Taser, which apparently had no effect.
A second officer followed. The officers managed to free the girl, and handed her out the door to a family member.
An officer touched Marquez with the Taser a second time and eventually handcuffed him, police said. Marquez soon developed shortness of breath and officers performed CPR until medical crews arrived.
Marquez was pronounced dead at the hospital
Police are investigating the incident.
Autopsy results are not expected for several weeks, Tranter said. Tranter declined to identify the girl's mother because she was not arrested.
The girl also was not identified. She is expected to recover.
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Ariz. police stop man from performing exorcism