Scottsdale Police shooting suspect was wanted in sexual assault case, police say

A man accused of shooting a Scottsdale police sergeant in downtown Phoenix on Jan. 6 was reportedly shot and killed by police while being taken into custody in Tempe.

On Jan. 6, members of the Scottsdale Police's Special Assignments Unit served a search warrant at an apartment complex near 1st Avenue and Roosevelt after receiving a number of tips about Hearne. During that time, police said Hearne also had an active warrant for arrest from the city of Mesa for a failure to appear in court for DUI.

When Scottsdale authorities arrived at the apartment, a woman and child came out. Hearne was spotted inside and ducked behind a wall, police said. Detectives were trying to talk to him when they were shot at through the wall, and a sergeant was hit.

Sgt. Scott Galbraith was reportedly shot in the abdomen. On Sunday, Scottsdale Police said Galbraith, a 19-year veteran of the department, was released from the hospital to recover at home. 

Galbraith is expected to make a full recovery and be able to return to full duty.

Suspect found in Tempe

The suspect in the shooting, later identified as 37-year-old Kenneth Hearne, was later found near Baseline Road and Lakeshore Drive in Tempe, nearly a day after the search began for him.

According to Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe police officials, officers were conducting surveillance and following up on tips in the area on Saturday when Hearne arrived. When police moved in to arrest him, Hearne reportedly brought out a gun. Police shot him in response.

Officials say Hearne was taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition, where he later died from his injuries.

Police release timeline of events surrounding Hearne

On Jan. 12, Scottsdale Police officials released a timeline of events, and explained why they did what they did in the lead-up to the shooting, including serving a search warrant on what was described as a violent criminal, near where an event called First Friday was held.

According to Sgt. Kevin Quon, an investigation began on Oct. 12, 2022, after a 70-year-old woman reported that she was sexually assaulted at the San Marin Apartments in Scottsdale. The victim said her attacker was armed. 

An analysis of Hearne's DNA found at the downtown Phoenix apartment matched that of the rape suspect at the San Marin Apartments back in October, police said.

Officers spent months gathering a number of potential witnesses to the crime after asking for the public's help to find the perpetrator. Hearne was eventually identified as a "possible investigative lead," Quon said. Investigators said they identified him through security cameras leaving the apartments on the day of the attack.

MORE: Witness sought after by Scottsdale Police in connection to sex assault near Old Town

Hearne moved from a witness to a person of interest after he reportedly continued to avoid police during the investigation.

When detectives track Hearne to Downtown Phoenix, authorities hatched a plan.

"At the time, the decision was made because he’s a violent offender who committed a violent offense, and we could not let him leave," said Scottsdale Police Lieutenant Lee Campbell.

Hearne did not give up quietly, however, and still managed to escape.

Bodycam video released

On Jan. 20, Phoenix Police released bodycam video showing officers shooting Hearne on Jan. 7.

In the video, officers were heard yelling at Hearne near a parking complex at Lakeshore Drive and Rural Road. Hearne did not comply, and officers first fired non-lethal bullets.

Officials, however, say Hearne pulled out a gun, and that's when two Phoenix Police officers and a police sergeant got involved in the shooting.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office will reportedly review the incident after Phoenix Police completes its investigation. 

‘A lot of guns being pointed, people running’

Following the shooting, Downtown Phoenix residents described the frightening sights and sounds they heard during the incident.

Aidan Willams said he was still shaken.

"I live right next door, so immediately when I hear the gunshots, I walk out 15 seconds later," Williams said. "I just looked outside, and yeah, a lot of guns being pointed, people running."

He said he was familiar with the suspect and the others who were in the apartment.

"I do know these people," he said. "I talked to them that day right before, and then you know, you see people with assault rifles outside of their room, and I’m like, oh jeez."

He says a large crowd gathered and that likely helped Hearne get away.

"I think he probably got away because there were so many people, probably just merged into the crowd and was able to get away," he said.

Neighbors say they didn’t know Hearne well and believe he was the boyfriend of the woman inside the complex.

Kenneth Hearne

Kenneth Hearne