Marana Road Rage Shooting Leads to Death, Arrest

I firmly believe that law abiding individuals have a right to carry concealed firearms for self-defense. The passage of constitutional carry in Arizona, an effort of the Arizona Citizens Defense League, was hailed by many as a step forward in this regard, but I found it objectionable for two reasons. One was practical, in that it, at least for a time, limited the number of states which recognized my Arizona concealed handgun permit, thus actually reducing my ability to legally defend myself. The other was theoretical, in that people without an understanding of laws regarding use of force might carry and potentially use firearms inappropriately, as I found the use of force discussions to be the most valuable portion of my CCW permit class.

Arizona was already a shall issue permit state, so the constitutional carry provision simply eliminated this short educational period and the laughably brief range qualification. It was hailed by many as a step forward for freedom because one no longer had to “seek written permission from the government” to carry, but as I said before, the efforts of the AZCDL actually limited my ability to legally carry a firearm in neighboring states. Some would put forth the notion that the solution to this problem should be that all states adopt constitutional carry, which will never happen, at least not in my lifetime.

As Arizona still has now-optional concealed weapons permits, you might think the training provisions would remain so that other states would not rescind reciprocity agreements; no, AZCDL saw fit to reduce training requirements for permits as well, even touting this as an accomplishment, thus prompting states like Nevada to end Arizona concealed weapons permit reciprocity (Nevada has since chosen to recognize Arizona permits once again, but for quite some time this was not the case). Many of the other things AZCDL has done have been extremely beneficial to Arizonans and others traveling through this great state. In my opinion, this was not one of them.

Shooting Death of Martin Padilla

My theoretical concerns were borne out a week ago when a 26 year old man – who due to his age could not have received a concealed carry permit prior to the constitutional carry law being enacted, and thus is unlikely to have ever attended the longer, once-required 16 hour class which discussed in detail legal issues regarding the use of lethal force – shot and killed a 40 year old man in front of his four children after a road rage incident and subsequent physical altercation, both of which were apparently prompted by the 26 year old man.

Here’s the interim complaint:

According to the above complaint and an interview with Hamza Padilla, the facts are as follows. As I may have transcribed things incorrectly, I encourage you to read and/or watch the primary sources above.

Marcus Dixon, 26, honked at a vehicle after it failed to go through a green arrow or at least move fast enough when a red turn arrow went green. This vehicle was driven by the 15-year-old son, Hamza, of 40-year-old Martin Padilla, who occupied the front passenger seat, while his three younger siblings sat in the backseat. Hamza stated that Marcus Dickson had been tailgating him.

After moving through the intersection at a pace apparently unacceptable to Marcus Dickson, Hamza pulled into a Walmart parking lot and attempted to move out of the way so the other vehicle could pass. Instead, Marcus Dickson pulled in front of the vehicle so as to block it in, at which point both adults emerged from their vehicles and a physical altercation apparently started by Marcus Dickson ensued. As Martin Padilla was 6 ft 5 in tall and 300 pounds and Marcus Dickson is 5 feet 11 inches tall and 215 pounds, along with the fact that Marcus Dickson’s ground game apparently sucks, Padilla ended up on top and may have struck Dickson a number of times, although his injuries described in the complaint are relatively minor and not particularly visible in his booking photo.

Edit: Well, this is embarrassing. I mixed up the sizes of the individuals involved. Somehow, despite being taller and weighing almost 100lbs more, Dickson ended up at the losing end of the physical fight. I reiterate my comment that Dickson’s ground game sucked – with extra emphasis this time.

26 year old Marcus Dickson, charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Martin Padilla.

Dickson stated that he drew his firearm with his right hand and shot Padilla in the torso once, was able to get out from under him as Padilla made a strange sound, then shot him again in order to keep him from standing up, which Padilla was apparently making no attempt to do.

Dickson has been charged with manslaughter. I fully expect and hope that he will face a fair trial. While the facts of the case may be different than those stated in the interim, in which case I would be open to changing my opinion and interpretation of the situation, for now I will take the facts of the complaint at face value.

This does not look good for Marcus Dickson. He was apparently the aggressor in a situation in which the victim’s vehicle, possibly at the direction of the victim, attempted to deescalate before trapping the victim and emerging from his vehicle to challenge a man with his four minor children, a man who quite understandably sought to defend his children, especially the 15 year old driver of the vehicle who apparently raised Dickson’s ire. Dickson then apparently chose to engage in a physical altercation.  When the fight started to go bad for him, he used lethal force twice, at least one example of which was not justified by the victim’s actions as described in the complaint.

Viewed within the context of the road rage incident and the initiation of the physical altercation as well as the second, apparently totally unnecessary shot, however – as I said, this does not look good for Marcus Dickson.

Curiously, this exact type of situation was discussed when I went to my concealed weapon permit class about 10 years ago. The question was posed by a student as to whether or not one could draw and fire a gun at someone in a fight one was losing. As I recall, the instructor said you could absolutely do so if you feared for your life as a result of the size or number of the people you were fighting, but that the authorities would likely take a very dim view if you were the one who initiated the fight.

Certainly, Marcus Dickson could have, and indeed may have, sought this information on his own instead of being forced to attend a class which discussed the use of force. I understand that the idea of the government forcing one to learn about the laws and moral issues surrounding the use of lethal force, even from a private instructor, is anathema to some. Furthermore, if the facts as alleged in the complaint are true, it may be the case that Dickson was a hothead who would not have benefited from any input regarding how to use a concealed weapon, instead choosing to follow his own moral compass. It could also be possible that Martin Padilla was in fact the aggressor, or maybe some would say Padilla should not have gotten out of his vehicle, even if he felt a strong desire to put himself between his children and someone who was allegedly attempting to trap them in a confined area. It should be noted that Padilla was an Army veteran who served in Iraq as an interpreter.

I can’t help but wonder if Martin Padilla would be alive today if Marcus Dickson had been sitting in a class taught by the same instructor who told me that you would be on thin legal ice if you used lethal force in a fistfight you started.

As a side note, I had been in that parking lot – turning left at that same green arrow – just a few hours before the shooting, in a vehicle with a friend who is under the age of 18. Had Mr. Dickson been following me, I too would have attempted to deescalate and drive away or pull aside to allow him to pass. The fact that I had firearms in the vehicle at the time would have been a reminder that I had no need to prove my superiority as a result of a misunderstanding in traffic. Speaking in general terms, carrying a firearm has encouraged me to avoid confrontations whenever possible. It saddens me that a man is dead and four children are without a father after the same choices were not made in real life.

A GoFundMe has been set up for Padilla’s family.

28 thoughts on “Marana Road Rage Shooting Leads to Death, Arrest”

  1. Disagree with you overall, but agree on this: “Speaking in general terms, carrying a firearm has encouraged me to avoid confrontations whenever possible.”

    Also agree that national and state-level 2A orgs need to be aware of reciprocity issues when they try to push reform, though I’ve been fortunate in that we’ve only gained reciprocity in my state as a result of those efforts, not lost it.

    I’m not fond of the idea that we can legislate against stupidity. It might make you feel good, but it never works unless the enforcement is so harsh as to destroy freedom. For every Marcus Dickson, there are uncountable citizens out there who are taking it upon themselves to be their own first responder, when they otherwise might not for a variety of reasons if a permit or license were required. If this had happened in neighboring California, you wouldn’t be talking about it in this light. But because everything Dickson did up until he began his assault was legal, you’ve fallen for the “one more law” fallacy.

    It was already illegal for Dickson to harrass, stalk, assault, and murder Martin Padilla. One more law would not have prevented this. Lots of people carry guns in their vehicles illegally, simply because Dickson’s carrying of a gun was legal doesn’t mean that this happened *because* of liberal gun laws.

    “Instead, Marcus Dickson pulled in front of the vehicle so as to block it in, at which point both adults emerged from their vehicles and a physical altercation apparently started by Marcus Dickson ensued.” – This is where things irrevocably went south. At this point, it’s plain that Mr. Dickson shouldn’t be in charge of a sharp stick, let alone a two ton death rolling death machine or a bullet hose. But I don’t believe the government is capable of weeding out the Marcus Dicksons of the world without overwhelmingly chilling the freedoms of everyday people.

    1. Certainly a law alone would not have prevented this. I simply put forth the notion that Marcus Dickson, and by extension Martin Padilla and family, may have benefited greatly from Dickson having to sit through a class on the proper use of force.

      1. That assumes that Dickson would have complied with the law in an alternate universe where AZ does not have permitless carry. Judging by his other actions, I would not make that assumption.

        Additionally, while you and I might seek out high quality training, I’m of the opinion that most people do not, and that most training in this segment is low quality.

        1. I mean, the alternate universe you describe is real Arizona circa 2009, so it’s not a far-fetched notion. The training at the time had to be conducted by DPS-certified instructors, which was one of the things AZCDL apparently wanted to undo. We can’t say that the minimum level of training in Arizona has increased in quality or content since 2010; it has in fact decreased (as a direct result of AZCDL efforts tied to constitutional carry and other such provisions).

          1. I’m of the opinion that people tend to look at state mandated training as just another hoop they have to jump through. It is the rare individual that takes it to heart. It may not seem this way to you because of the people you surround yourself with, but we’re in the minority (educated and trained) of a minority (people who frequently shoot) of a minority (people who carry) of a minority (people who own guns.)

            Additionally, I experienced the opposite in my state when it comes to training reform – keeping in mind the above. My first carry class was in the dark days of may issue in my state. I had to take a class from someone certified as a state law enforcement instructor. My choices were limited to the local Sheriff’s dept with a waiting list over a year long, or another class far away but much easier to get into. I chose the latter, and that class was full of baaaaaad info. It’s the among worst training I’ve ever gotten on any subject – and it was also the most expensive class I’ve taken regarding concealed carry! LEOs do not make good instructors when it comes to the law by virtue of being a LEO.

            Since then, I’ve taken two other concealed carry classes, both of which I vetted ahead of time and ended up being of great quality. Both dealt almost exclusively with the subjects of use of force and state law, and I now admire the instructors of those classes greatly and seek out their advice from time to time.

            Neither class would have been acceptable in the may issue days, but after shall issue reform passed in my state any NRA instructor could provide a class and decide the curriculum. Yes, that cuts both ways – but it can definitely increase the quality of education available as well.

            Still, people take the path of least resistance when it comes to jumping through the hoops. The popularity of two-hour internet slide shows that pass as training prove that.

          2. I used to work in a gun store and I visit public ranges, nothing surprises me about how few people take training and proficiency seriously.

            I don’t think all LEOs automatically make good instructors. And I’m generally opposed to the notion of occupational licensing. However, in the absence of serious concealed carry training by private groups tailored to the laws of a state, the curriculum used back in the day was very good, and I lament the subsequent drop in quality. I note that AZCDL does not appear to advocate or have put any effort into developing a training program or even provide links to quality non-mandatory training programs for those who want to carry safer and better educated – just a general advocation for reduced mandatory training.

  2. with regards to deescalation, when you carry a gun every day the only kind of fights you can get into are gunfights.

  3. Andrew, please read what you wrote. In your commentary, you state:

    ” Dickson then apparently chose to engage in a physical alteration with a much larger man rather than step away when he should have realized he was out of his league. “, and then “As Martin Padilla was 6 ft 5 in tall and 300 pounds and Marcus Dickson is 5 feet 11 inches tall and 215 pounds, “The victim then grabbed Marcus…..”

    The complaint states: “It should be noted that the victim is 5’11 inches and 215 lbs.”

    The victim they are referring to in that statement is Padilla, because as stated just a few sentences earlier in the complaint, they state: “The victim then grabbed Marcus”

    From the start of the complaint, they are referring to Padilla as the victim and refer to Marcus Dickson by his first name only.

    Shitty report writing on their part if you ask me.

  4. Andrew, Martin was a friend and co-worker. He was the smaller guy, I believe Dickson was losing the fight, Martin was on top of him, and he decided to use deadly force to stop the fight. I don’t know Dickson, but Martin was a great guy. He should not be dead.

  5. The second shot is unfortunate, but:
    A) Not being ready to get moving at a green light should be punishable by death.
    B) Padilla shouldn’t have been in the country.

  6. I am very skeptical of the idea that Dickson having been educated on the use of force would have altered the outcome of this situation.

    If we take the complaint at face value, the charge of manslaughter seems rather weak. If Dickson followed them, blocked them in, and initiated the fight – he straight up murdered that man. No reasonable person would take the same actions Dickson did that lead to the confrontation.

    If the complaint portrays a more or less accurate version of the events that occurred: Dickson is a crumb, pure and simple. No training, no education would have changed that.

      1. I took the original class that was given before the constitutional law passed. It didn’t teach anything that you couldn’t figure out with basic common sense, but as you know common sense is not a teachable trait. I have no doubt that this situation would still have happened.

  7. There is no death toll large enough to curb freedom. It’s wrong and destructive. Simple as that. My condolences to the families of all envoled. This is not a problem to be solved with a bit of training or restriction on freedom. My take away from this incident would be to always avoid combat.

  8. State recommended private contractors experienced in use of force encounters could make a difference. They should be reviewed by non anonymous individuals that have police records of their encounter. Perhaps the use of force courses could be funded by taxes for a public safety initiative which could get more people on the same standard of encounter.
    Do we implement mandatory safety courses to protect ourselves from one another, even though it would impede our sense of freedom? Does a family suffer because a free individual decided to not take responsible mature course of action? If free men decide their own course without having a standard to compare to would it even matter? People will do whatever they want to do whether its right or wrong.

  9. If this had happened on Utah, Mr. Dickson would be on shaky ground for a self defense plea. Not only for being the aggressor, but our law is written in such a way that if you choose to enter onto “mutual combat,” using a gun later becomes almost indefensible. You would have to show that you disengaged from the combat, clearly requested it to cease, sought other means to end it, and used the firearm solely to prevent from being killed.

  10. Sad story. I’ve also long been of the opinion that “constitutional carry” is not the best solution for all states. It makes sense in some areas, Alaska for example, but for other areas, I feel a well-thought-out shall-issue system is better. Carrying a firearm is a serious responsibility, and it’s imperative that anyone looking to do so become educated on local laws and the appropriate employment of lethal force. Whether that’s classes, educational materials, or self-learning, it needs to happen, and there are ways to encourage it and provide resources without interfering with someone’s right to carry.

    Would education have made a difference in this case? No one can say for sure. Some people will just aren’t rational once the red mist descends. But it certainly wouldn’t have made things worse, and having a greater percentage of educated permit-holders will undoubtedly make such incidents less likely.

  11. I am pro-constitutional Carry, but I also think our training standards for permits should be higher to have reciprocity with as many other states as possible. Anyone should be able to carry without a permit in AZ, but for those of us that choose to get them they should have as much benefit as possible.

    I also think that no amount of training can eliminate aggressive mindset, or bad judgment. I’ve had a number of people in CCW or Armed Guard classes over the years that were clearly looking for any excuse to use force legally. More education on the law won’t stop those people.

    Look up the incident where a retired sheriffs deputy road raged a veteran and what shot for his poor judgment by the veteran. Someone with 3 decades of experience and training thought it was a good idea to get out of his car with a pistol in his hand. Jumping out of your car after any kind of confrontation at best makes you a mural combatant, at worse the aggressor. Staying in your vehicle is much more defensible.

  12. Andrew,
    Unrelated to this story, but please continue writing. This blog is the only gun blog worth reading, because it uses objectively gathered data and has no politics. It also isn’t crammed full of popups and BS links and ads all over for me to accidentally click on as I scroll past. There is a painfully long wait time between articles, which I assume is due to employment type obligations, or perhaps due to legal concerns. How can I support your blog financially?

    1. Andrew,

      I greatly appreciate your comments and thoughts. I don’t really have a mechanism for supporting the blog, but you might want to take a look at the work I’ve been doing for Omaha Outdoors. Most of the work appears on the OO YouTube channel. We have done some stuff that has interested a lot of people, and I think we will have more such items in the future.

      Thanks again,


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