PHOENIX – Officers responding to a report of an exorcism on a young girl found her grandfather choking her and used stun guns to subdue the man, who later died, authorities said Sunday.
The 3-year-old girl and her mother, who was also in the room during the struggle between 49-year-old Ronald Marquez and officers, were hospitalized, police said. Their condition was unavailable.
The relative who called police said an exorcism had also been attempted Thursday.
"The purpose was to release demons from this very young child," Sgt. Joel Tranter said.
Officers arrived at the house Saturday and entered when they heard screaming coming from a bedroom, Tranter said.
A bed had been pushed up against the door; the officers pushed it open a few inches and saw Marquez choking his bloodied granddaughter, who was crying in pain and gasping, Tranter said.
A bloody, naked 19-year-old woman who police later determined to be Marquez's daughter and the girl's mother was in the room, chanting "something that was religious in nature," Tranter said.
The officers forced open the door enough for one to enter, leading to a struggle in which an officer used a stun gun on Marquez, Tranter said.
After the initial stun had no visible effect, another officer squeezed into the room and stunned him. The girl was freed and passed through the door to the relative, Tranter said.
Marquez was placed in handcuffs after a struggle with officers and initially appeared normal, but then stopped breathing, Tranter said. He could not be revived and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Tranter declined to identify Marquez's daughter and granddaughter but said they lived in the house with Marquez.
The mother was not arrested, but police will consider criminal charges, Tranter said.
There was no phone listing at Ronald Marquez's address.