Lifestyle & Human Interest

20-Year-Old EMT Dies Following Tragic Drive-by Shooting During Emergency Response


Team player. Selfless hero. Firefighter hopeful. Beloved son, brother, grandson and friend.

At 20 years old, Jacob “Jake” Dindinger of Tucson, Arizona, should have his whole life ahead of him. Instead, he was left fighting for his life in a hospital room after a senseless act of violence.

Dindinger had just started work as an American Medical Response EMT with the goal of one day becoming a firefighter like his brother in California.

On July 18, just four months after starting his new job, he and a colleague showed up at the scene of an emergency and were inside their ambulance when Leslie Scarlett, 35, drove by and started firing a gun at them, according to KVOA-TV.

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Dindinger’s partner was shot in the chest and arm and was reported as being in stable condition several days later. Dindinger was shot in the head, arm, chest and neck, and after fighting for nearly two weeks, passed away on Friday.

Several other people were injured and two other people were killed in the shooting, including the shooter himself, who died after an exchange of gunfire with a Tucson Police Department officer, according to KOLD-TV.

When Dindinger was in the hospital, those who knew him took the time to tell the world about him and let people know just how amazing he was, how much he had going for him and how much he had to offer.

“During Jacob’s new hire class, it was evident that his quick wit and sense of humor made him the perfect fit for a first responder,” a Facebook post from AMR Southern Arizona read.

“A couple months after being hired, Jacob started expressing an interest in being sponsored by AMR to attend paramedic school, once he was eligible. Jacob’s long-term dream and goal was to be a firefighter just like his older brother, but he wanted to accomplish that goal quicker than Bryan. This shows the drive and determination that Jacob has.

“One of the most important things in Jacob’s life is his family. Family means everything to Jacob, and he is happiest when he is with his family.”

Cindy Mendoza, Dindinger’s aunt, commended his selflessness and said that helping others was his driving force.

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“All he wanted to do was help others,” Mendoza told KTSM-TV. “Whether it was family, friends, strangers, animals, that was just his character. When he started doing this, he knew right away this was his passion.

“He also has a brother who is a firefighter in Los Angeles and wanted to follow his brother’s footsteps. That was a big passion for him to do is to do what his brother was doing as well.”

While he was still in the hospital, his friends and family knew that nothing would be the same even if he did beat the odds and pull through.

“His life and the lives of his loved ones will be forever changed as they face some very daunting prospects ahead,” a GoFundMe page for Dindinger read.

Now that the worst has come to pass, the money raised through the page will “go to the family for memorial services and related expenses.”

After hearing the sad news of the young man’s passing, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has ordered that flags be lowered to half-staff.

“Jacob Dindinger was a brave, selfless member of our community whose life was taken far too soon,” Ducey said in a news release on Friday.

“Arizona’s deepest prayers are with Jacob’s family, loved ones, his fellow first responders and everyone who has been impacted by the senseless, violent act that took place while he was working to help and protect others,” the governor continued.

“In honor of Jacob’s life and service to our state, I’ve ordered flags be lowered to half-staff.”

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