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Monterrius Smith (left) and Tyrone Jones (right) stand accused of stealing more than $15,000 worth of iPhones from Walmart in Maricopa. PCSO Photos.

Two of three suspects charged in connection with the theft of more than $15,000 in cellular phones from a Maricopa Walmart pled not guilty in court Friday.

Monterrius Smith, 20, and Tyrone Jones, 19, entered pleas of not guilty to Judge Lawrence Wharton of the Pinal County Superior Court after each were charged with multiple counts of theft and burglary for a  Jan. 5 theft of 18 iPhones from the Walmart store located on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

Both stand accused of allegedly entering the store with an unknown third suspect and executing a coordinated heist.

“The males took turns distracting the clerk as they crawled under the service counter and used a pry bar type tool, to open a locked cabinet containing new iPhones [sic],” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said in a written statement.

Smith and Jones are also accused of committing similar thefts from a Casa Grande Walmart, court documents show.  

Both have been charged with theft, organized retail theft and third-degree burglary.

If convicted, each face presumptive prison sentences of eight and a half years in prison.

This is a developing story. Continue to follow InMaricopa for up-to-date information about this case.       

A 22-year-old man was arrested for allegedly assaulting his grandfather over a disagreement regarding access to a television set Thursday morning in Rancho El Dorado.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Sgt. Hal Koozer said the suspect, Dorin Martinez, is accused of physically assaulting his 73-year-old grandfather at the home they share near the 42000 block of Bunker Drive around 9:54 a.m. on Jan. 25.

“The grandpa locked the TV up, and the grandchild wanted it,” Koozer said.

The victim received a laceration to his face, but declined transportation to the hospital after being treated on scene by Maricopa Fire/Medical Department, according to MPD.

Koozer said no weapons were involved in the physical assault.

Police arrested Martinez and will forward a domestic violence assault charge to Pinal County Attorney’s Office. 

 

Submitted photo

The Maricopa Police Department Explorers Post 2100 placed first in crisis negotiation during a two-day, national tactical competition in Chandler.

The local post was one of 65 teams from around the country that competed in various SWAT events at the Chandler Police Department 20th annual Explorer Tactical Competition Jan. 13-14.

Explorer Edward Figueroa took the top placing in the individual male pistol shoot competition. Explorer Aubree Goettle placed fourth in the same event’s female category.

“Other events the MPD Explorers competed in were the tactical obstacle course, TK4 (swat vehicle) pull, rock wall climb, 5-man Hostage Rescue Team, marijuana grow operation raid, waterborne operations, sniper challenge and a tactical scavenger hunt,” said MPD Explorer advisor Officer Chris Evans.

Explorers who competed:
Edward Figueroa
Jacelyn Rodriguez
Dreama King
Dax Sweetser
James McNelly
Augustine Lujan
Aubree Goettle
Ethan Griffin
Donavan Griffin
MPD Advisors: Officer Chris Evans and Sgt. Sean Marchese


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Everton Williams. PCSO photo

A man was charged with aggravated assault after allegedly biting a Maricopa Police officer Jan. 6 while being transported to jail on charges of allegedly threatening to shoot a woman and marijuana possession.

MPD records show Everton Williams, 30, allegedly bit the officer during transport when officers attempted to put Williams in a “spit mask” after he “became combative and began spitting in the car.”

Williams was initially arrested around 1:15 a.m. after an officer investigating an alleged threat he made against a woman sitting in her car.

At around 12:30 a.m. the alleged victim was sitting in a car in her driveway when a man fitting Williams description allegedly approached her and threatened to shoot her, according to the report.

The victim claimed she did not know Williams and no motive was mentioned in the report.

After receiving word of the incident, MPD was able to identify and locate the vehicle Williams was a passenger in at the intersection of Smith-Enke and Porter roads.

During the traffic stop, MPD records indicate officers smelled an odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle. The vehicle was then searched, and marijuana was found in the “passenger compartment.” Williams allegedly admitted it was his despite not having a medical marijuana card.

Additionally, Williams admitted to speaking with the woman, though he denies making any threats.

The police report gives no indication any firearms were found.

While being transported to jail in Florence on charges of threatening and possession of marijuana, Williams allegedly became combative and began spitting in the police vehicle. After officers pulled over and attempted to restrain Williams he bit the officer’s middle finger, according to the report.

The officer was wearing gloves and only sustained minor bite marks not requiring medical attention.

Williams is being held at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center on a $10,000 bond.

If convicted, he could face as many as 9 years behind bars.


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Three suspects were photographed by surveillance cameras leaving Walmart after 18 iPhones were stolen.

Three male suspects are wanted by Maricopa police for questioning in a Jan. 5 theft at Walmart, during which more than $15,000 in cellular phones were stolen.

MPD is calling this the getaway car.

Around 6:30 a.m. Friday morning three males were captured on surveillance footage entering the store, and allegedly distracting the sales clerk while brazenly stealing a total of 18 iPhones from behind the electronics counter.

“The males took turns distracting the clerk as they crawled under the service counter and used a pry bar type tool, to open a locked cabinet containing new iPhones,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said in a written statement.

The suspects then exited the store and fled in a white four-door sedan.

The Maricopa Police Department is seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspects and asks that anyone with information regarding the theft or the identities of the suspects to please contact them on their non-emergency line at 520-568-3673.


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Explorer of the Year Dreama King with School Resource Officer Chris Evans, who runs the Explorer program at MHS. Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

By Joycelyn Cabrera

Sixteen-year-old Dreama King was awarded the Maricopa Police Department Explorers’ “Explorer of the Year” after she prevented a peer from committing suicide over the summer.

King stumbled upon an online group chat and discovered a young lady who had described the desire to harm herself and end her life due to her living circumstances.

King convinced the teen to message her privately and prevented her from taking her own life by helping her realize her own self-worth. Today, both young women have connected as close friends and continue to talk regularly.

After discussing the series of events with the lead advisor of MPD Explorers, Officer Chris Evans, she was nominated to be named 2017’s MPD Explorer of the Year. King received the honor in early November at the Maricopa Police Foundation awards dinner.

King, a junior at Maricopa High School, has been a part of MPD Explorers since her freshman year, after contemplating a career in military service or law enforcement. She rose to executive commander and second in command among the Explorers after only two years.

Evans nominated King due to her achievement in protecting a life as well as her drive and motivation among the Explorers. “It’s pretty easy working with someone who has that drive. She definitely earned it,” he said.

Dreama King. Photo by Joycelyn Cabrera

Evans oversees training among the Explorers and describes scenario-based situations to be prepared for real-life emergencies. Additionally, Explorers are exposed to potentially dangerous scenes when they participate in ride-alongs with officers.

The goal is for every Explorer to know how to react in any situation. Evans and King agree it was the training that primarily guided King through what to do, what to say and how to say it.

King said she was shocked and honored to receive the award. She believes anyone currently struggling should try to seek help. “There’s a lot of people that care. You can’t have a rainbow without a little rain.”


Joycelyn Cabrera is a senior at Maricopa High School.


This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.

Jonah Honie

A man was arrested Dec. 29 on multiple charges related to drug possession and driving with an open container of alcohol after an officer stopped the man for allegedly flicking a cigarette butt out of the window of a vehicle he was driving.

Maricopa Police arrested Jonah Lewis Honie, 22, Friday night after an officer investigating the alleged littering incident found an open container of alcohol in the suspect’s vehicle and methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia on his person.

At around 11 p.m. the officer spotted Honie allegedly toss the butt in the area of John Wayne Parkway and Rancho El Dorado, the report says.

During the traffic stop, the officer noticed an open bottle of Southern Comfort on the floorboard of the back seat. The bottle was allegedly within reach of the driver, prompting Honie’s arrest, the report says.

During a search, a small “jewelry box” containing nine “small individually wrapped plastic ziploc [sic] style bags,” containing a substance later positively identified as methamphetamine, was allegedly found in Honie’s front pocket.

A small digital scale with white and brown residue was also allegedly found in Honie’s back pocket.

During a post-Miranda interview, Honie allegedly admitted “he intended to sell the baggies of methamphetamine to provide for his four children.”

He was booked into Pinal County Jail and later released.

In all, he was charged with littering, possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle, possession of a dangerous drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.

If convicted Honie could face up to five years in prison. 


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As Maricopa firefighters check Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church for fire, MPD prepares a drone to fly over the building to look for smoke or flames. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Police Department used one of its newest bits of technology to assist the fire department in investigating a small fire at a church Tuesday.

First responders received reports of a small fire at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church around 9 a.m. Tuesday and were on scene within minutes.

MFMD on scene to contain the fire at the church. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Fire/Medical fire investigator Jason Nelson said firefighters were able to keep the blaze contained to a small closet. MPD spokesperson Ricardo Alvarado said the department deployed their drone in an attempt to help locate possible hotspots or areas where fire may be hidden from sight.

The drone, equipped with a state of the art forward-looking infrared camera (FLIR) system, flew over the building for more than half an hour using both its FLIR camera and full-spectrum camera to look for any latent fire.

Alvarado said the drone did not detect any areas of possible concern, indicating the fire was likely contained. The church’s sprinkler system was effective in stopping the spread of any flames.

Church secretary Patti Coutre said via social media, there was “no major damage, however church will remain closed until the insurance releases it and it is cleaned up.”

A woman did receive minor burns to her hands as a result of the fire, Nelson said. However, since the injuries weren’t considered serious, she chose to seek medical attention on her own.

Nelson said the exact cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

 



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Photo credits: 1 Scott Bartle; 2 PCSO; 3 submitted; 4 Will Wynne; 5 Nathan Corp; 6 PCSO; 7 PCSO; 8 submitted; 9 Michelle Chance

Most-read stories related to police, fire and emergency events:

  1. Murder-suicide suspected in couple’s death

A Maricopa couple was found deceased May 7 from what Maricopa Police Department suspects was a murder-suicide. The 69-year-old husband and the 67-year-old wife were found dead from apparent gunshot wounds after a report of gunshots heard in the area. The woman was apparently suffering from terminal cancer.

  1. MCSO: Fatal crash caused by passing in oncoming traffic

A fatal crash Sept. 5 on State Route 238 was likely caused by one of the vehicles trying to pass a commercial truck in the path of oncoming traffic, Maricopa County Sheriff’s officials said. The vehicles collided when both drivers made evasive maneuvers, meeting head-on on the shoulder, killing both drivers and injuring two teens in one of the vehicles.

  1. 2 teens die after crash on Papago

Two teenagers died after a minivan they were riding in struck another vehicle and rolled over Oct. 29. The second vehicle allegedly ran a stop sign at the Ralston Road and Papago Road intersection when the minivan struck the car and ejected one of the teens. Five of the six passengers in the van were transported to the hospital where the 16- and 17-year-old boys, both of whom were wheelchair-bound, later died.

  1. MPD arrests man on multiple child molestation charges

An area handyman accused of sex crimes involving a minor was arrested by Maricopa Police Nov. 28 for his alleged inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old child. Ronald Bragonier, 54, was arrested after the victim notified authorities of multiple incidents that occurred earlier in 2017 in multiple cities and states.

  1. Maricopa teen charged with assault after ‘bragging’ on social media

A Maricopa teen was arrested Oct. 7 on multiple charges stemming from an alleged assault he bragged about in video posted to his Facebook page. Willie Lofton, 19, allegedly started multiple fights at Copper Sky Regional Park several days before his arrest. He then went back to one of the locations of the fights and began filming blood stains on the ground and on his shoes.

  1. Road rage caught on video leads to charges

Charges of disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace were filed against two Maricopa motorists June 27 when an incident of road rage was captured on video that went viral on social media. James Kingery was filmed by another motorist allegedly punching Holden Elsea through the open window of his vehicle at an intersection on John Wayne Parkway. Elsea then reacted by striking the rear window of Kingery’s vehicle with a tire iron or similar object.

  1. 2 dead in crash on SR 347

A man and a woman died as the result of a three-car collision on State Route 347 Oct. 28, just north of Riggs Road. DPS said the deceased male was driving the vehicle that struck two others stopped for a red light at Riggs Road. He was not wearing a seatbelt and suffered “major head trauma,” while a gravely injured woman was transported to Chandler Regional Hospital where she later died.

  1. Maricopa family grieves loss of 4 children in Illinois fire

A Maricopa mother lost her four oldest children in a residential fire Nov. 21 near the city of Dixon, Illinois. The children, once residents of Maricopa, moved to Illinois to live with their father and stepmother, who also perished in the blaze. Tragically, the family also suffered a loss in 2013 when their 4-month-old son died from sudden infant death syndrome.

  1. 3 charged in armed robbery at Maricopa ATM

Three suspects were arrested for armed robbery Nov. 21 after a cellular phone stolen during the heist was tracked by law enforcement. The three allegedly approached a woman sitting in her car at the Bank of America ATM around 12:30 a.m. One suspect allegedly pointed a gun at the victim, robbing her of $260 and the phone. The trio was arrested roughly two hours later by Chandler PD.

  1. Vehicle crossed over median before fatal crash

Two men and a woman, all members of the Gila River Indian Community, were killed Nov. 29 after the vehicle they were in, heading southbound on State Route 347, crossed over the median north of Casa Blanca Road, rolled over into oncoming traffic and was struck by a semi. One other passenger in the Ford Ranger survived the crash and was transported to Chandler Regional hospital, while the driver of the semi was uninjured.


This story appears in the January issue of InMaricopa.



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David Goff (left) and Seth Rodriguez were arrested after being accused of shoplifting at Walmart. PCSO photos

After being arrested on shoplifting charges last week, a woman was also booked on possession of drug paraphernalia after police allegedly discovered a meth pipe on the woman’s person, according to a Maricopa Police Department report.

During processing at the Maricopa Police Department on Dec. 19, Jolene Wilson, 35, told officers she had the meth pipe hidden in her “belly roll.”

Police allegedly found more paraphernalia on one of Wilson’s alleged shoplifting accomplices, 26-year-old David Goff.

“Upon searching Goff, an empty syringe was discovered which was described by David as his syringe for ‘shooting up heroin,’” the police report alleges.

Wilson and Goff were arrested alongside 24-year-old Seth Rodriguez after a trip to Walmart, where the trio is accused of stealing over $600 worth of merchandise at approximately 3:25 p.m. on Dec. 19.

Items allegedly stolen from the store include a television, hoverboard, tools and toys. The incident was caught on camera by a loss-prevention store associate.

As Wilson sat in the driver seat of a silver sedan outside Walmart, the police report states, surveillance cameras recorded Goff and Rodriguez leaving the store with merchandise in their carts they did not purchase.

“The two male suspects entered the vehicle and all three fled the scene with the trunk to the vehicle still open,” according to the police report.

Approximately three minutes later, officers spotted the vehicle turning north onto White and Parker Road from Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. MPD later pulled the sedan over at White and Parker Road and Lococo Street.

The report alleges Wilson told responding officers on scene she and her two passengers were driving from Coolidge to Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, “which was the opposite direction of where the car was driving.”

During the traffic stop, the Walmart loss-prevention employee was transported to the scene by MPD where she positively identified Goff and Rodriguez as being involved in the shoplifting.

All the stolen merchandise was discovered by officers inside the trunk of the sedan, according to the report. Goff allegedly admitted to shoplifting after the suspects were interviewed and read their Miranda rights.

All three were arrested on shoplifting charges and transported to the Pinal County Sherriff’s Office Jail. Goff and Wilson were also booked on possession of drug paraphernalia.



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Members of Maricopa Public Safety Departments gave back to their community this season by donating gifts for the holidays. During the sixth annual Ride for Toys event Dec. 9, children and their families received rides aboard The Maricopa Fire/Medical Department and fire trucks in exchange for toy donations. With help from CERT volunteers, MFMD donated the toys, as well as a $500 check to F.O.R. Maricopa Food Bank. Dec. 16, The Maricopa Police Department helped local children purchase gifts for their families during their annual “Shop with a Cop” inside Walmart.

Anthony Wyant faces several charges and Monique Quiroz is accused of attempted forgery in an incident at Wells Fargo. PCSO photos

A man was arrested Saturday at Wells Fargo in Maricopa for multiple charges stemming from an alleged forgery attempt in an incident that sent a police officer to the hospital.

Anthony Wyant, 51, of Mesa was arrested Dec. 16 at approximately 10:53 a.m. when he reportedly attempted to flee questioning by police regarding an attempted check forgery by an accomplice, 35-year-old Monique Quiroz of Casa Grande.

According to Maricopa Police Department records, Wyant first became “passively resistant” when police responding to investigate a check forgery in progress inside the bank asked him to exit the front passenger seat of the vehicle he was waiting in.

A warrant search was conducted for Wyant, revealing an outstanding warrant for failure to appear, the MPD report says. After further requests to exit the vehicle, he continued to refuse to comply at which point, the report alleges, Wyant put the vehicle in drive from the passenger seat and drove over a walkway, colliding with signage in front of the bank.

As a result of the incident, one MPD officer was injured. The officer was treated and later released from Chandler Regional Medical Center.

During further investigation, the MPD report says, the owner of the vehicle, a Scottsdale woman, stated neither Wyant nor Quiroz had permission to use the vehicle. Furthermore, the report alleges, Wyant provided an alias in an attempt to interfere with an investigation.

In all, Wyant was charged with nine separate offenses, including three counts of criminal damage, two counts of endangerment, aggravated assault, vehicle theft, false reporting to law enforcement and resisting arrest. He is being held at the Pinal County Jail in Florence on a $10,000 bond.

If convicted, Wyant faces more than 20 years in prison.

Quiroz was also arrested and charged with two counts of forgery. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison.  She, too, is being held at the Pinal County Jail on a lesser $5,525 bond.



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Ched Bayles

A man and woman were arrested for shoplifting Saturday, just days after the man was arrested for allegedly assaulting and stealing from the same woman.

Ched Bayles, 28, and April Rarrick were arrested Dec. 16 for reportedly stealing multiple items from Fry’s grocery store, including a case of beer.

According to Maricopa Police Department reports, at around 8:50 p.m. Bayles, Rarrick and a third party, identified as Duane Antone, allegedly attempted to drive an electric shopping cart containing multiple items out of the store without paying.

The trio abandoned the cart in the parking lot and fled when an off-duty police officer attempted to stop them, according to the report.

Security camera footage allegedly shows Bayles grabbing a case of beer from the basket as he fled. Few minutes later, another off-duty officer saw Bayles riding a bike while holding the case of beer. Unaware of the incident, the officer did not attempt to contact Bayles.

Contact was eventually made with Bayles roughly half an hour later, though he was not in possession of the beer at the time, the report said. He was searched “incident to arrest” and was found to have other items in his backpack allegedly taken from Fry’s.

Rarrick was arrested around 9:15 p.m. when contact was made with her during what the report says was an “unrelated incident.”

Both were charged with theft and booked into Pinal County Jail.

Antone was not located at the time of the report. It is likely a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

Less than a week prior to this incident, on Dec. 11, Bayles was arrested when Rarrick called police to report he had allegedly slashed the tires of her bike and stole several items from her after grabbing her violently and sitting on her chest. As a result of that incident, Bayles was charged with assault, theft and criminal damage.



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Maricopa Police Foundation named Jonathan Schueller (left) Officer of the Year, and Elliot Sneezy Sergeant of the Year.

Maricopa Police Foundation honored Maricopa’s “finest” its annual award ceremony Nov. 4. MPD veteran Elliot Sneezy was named Sergeant of the Year, and newcomer Jonathan Schueller was named Officer of the Year. Shawna Thies was named Civilian Employee of the Year and Dreama King Explorer of the Year. Barry Vogel and Kelly Hayden were named Volunteers of the Year.


Officer of the Year Jonathan Schueller

Hometown: Primghar, Iowa
Current residence: Chandler
Years as a police officer: 1½
Serving Maricopa since: 2016
Family: Married nine years to Jamie Schueller, a kindergarten teacher
Like most about Maricopa: Support from the community
Favorite part of the job: No two days are ever the same
Least favorite part of the job: Knowing I or one of my brothers or sisters may not go home at the end of our shift.
Proudest moment on the job: The day I got hired because becoming a police officer has been my lifelong dream.
Scariest moment on the job: I have no fear; I have full faith and trust in my fellow brothers and sisters in this profession.
Why did you become a police officer? I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. When others say they won’t go or won’t do it, I will go.

Sergeant of the Year Elliot Sneezy

Hometown: San Carlos
Current residence: Phoenix
Years as a police officer: 23
Serving Maricopa since: 2007
Family: Wife Isabella and daughter Aili
Like most about Maricopa: I like how supportive the community is toward our officers. I have witnessed the random acts of kindness displayed by the kids and adults.
Favorite part of the job: Being in the company of heroes. The officers I have worked with throughout my career have done amazing things that most people will never hear or see. I get to see and hear it weekly.
Least favorite part of the job: The political aspects related to policing.
Proudest moment on the job and why: When I received the Sergeant of the Year award in 2014 my daughter, who was 7 years old at the time, and my wife were there to witness it. The team that helped me earn the award was one of the best teams I had the pleasure to work with. At that time the officer of the year also came from our team.
Scariest moment on the job: In 1996 I responded to a person who cut both of his wrists. While talking to him he backed into his backyard. As I was getting closer to him he grabbed a pitchfork that was on a table facing me and tried to stab me in the stomach. Luckily he only stabbed me in the palm of my hand to my wrist. I pulled out the pitchfork and wrestled him to the ground.
Why did you become a police officer? When I left the Marine Corps I needed a job. There were no jobs that had much of a future. I applied for the police department and was selected. I didn’t realize it, but I became the fourth generation in my family to be a police officer. In 1994 I was nearly killed by a gang member. From that point my passion for working gangs became my reason for staying in law enforcement.

 


This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.

 

MPD Chief Steve Stahl addresses cadets in Maricopa High School's AFJROTC program.

Steve Stahl, chief of the Maricopa Police Department, never dreamed of becoming a police officer, let alone the leader of an entire jurisdiction.

While attending college, Stahl originally pursued a career in education.

“I wanted to be a school teacher,” he told a group of Air Force Junior ROTC cadets at Maricopa High School Monday morning.

But plans changed. Eventually, Stahl graduated from police academy and held several positions at the Mesa Police Department before taking his first chief of police position in Maricopa.

It was a decision spurred by Stahl’s dedication for his profession, he said, a trait vital for leaders in any field.

“Never chase the money. The money is not going to make you happy. Chase your passion,” Stahl said.

The police chief, dressed in uniform, lectured inside the school auditorium and outlined the personal attributes successful leaders share.

One of the most important traits is honesty, he said.

“If you lie, you lose the core, fundamental element of being part of something bigger than yourself,” Stahl said.

Students listened as the police chief encouraged them to bond with their community and break away from their comfort zones. Stahl asked students how many of them knew there was a mosque located in Maricopa. No hands raised.

“You have to be willing to talk to people who are different from you because they have a lot to offer and you have a lot to offer them,” he said.

Although Stahl decided against a career as a teacher years ago, MHS students said he taught them a lot about their potential.

“Everyone, individually, could be a great leader as long as they try,” said AFJROTC Cadet Nathan Dickinson.

Stahl’s speech is part of a lecture series held at MHS for AFJROTC students.


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High school-age boys walking to school told their mother they found two handguns just south of Edison Road in an empty lot. Submitted photo

A pair of high school students found two, fully loaded pistols in a dirt lot near the Acacia Crossing subdivision Friday morning, the teens’ mother said.

Brandie Weaver Brooks said her sons, 14-year-old Gabriel and 15-year-old Christian, were walking to Maricopa High School from their home in the Acacia Crossing subdivision.

After cutting through a dirt lot south of the subdivision and Edison Road, Weaver said the boys came upon a small-caliber semi-automatic and a holstered revolver.

“While walking through, my son seen something shiny, walked over to it, and [saw] both guns just out in the open in plain sight,” Brooks said.

From there, the boys immediately notified their mother, who then called police.

“I went over there with my son, who then showed me where they were, and we stood right there until the police arrived and took them,” Brooks said.

Both weapons were apparently fully loaded, she said.

The boys’ vigilance and responsible actions Friday morning made Weaver, who has taught her boys since a young age about gun safety, beam with pride.

“(There are) no words to describe the joy I feel knowing they did the right thing and called me right away to let me know what they found instead of messing with them or taking them to school,” Brooks said. “I’m the proudest mom at this moment.”

Maricopa Police Department is investigating whether the two guns are related to an October armed robbery of a Shell gas station, said MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

“As of right now, (the guns are) not entered into any system as being stolen,” Alvarado said.


Reporter Mason Callejas contributed to this story.  

This story has been updated from a previous version.


Assault charges are pending against a teen after she allegedly kicked another, pregnant teen in an altercation at Maricopa High School.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said the incident involving the two juveniles occurred around 2:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 27. The alleged offender supposedly kicked the other teen, described as four months pregnant, in the back causing her to fall to the ground, Alvarado said.

The pregnant teen refused medical treatment on scene and that “she would seek treatment on her own,” Alvarado said.

Alvarado further stated the teen responsible for the alleged assault was released into the custody of her mother. No motives for the fight were given.

As for the student’s punishment, Maricopa Unified School District superintendent Steve Chestnut said, “disciplinary consequences as described in the Secondary Student Handbook are being followed.”

Assault is considered a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

A 96-year-old woman drowned in Maricopa Saturday morning.

Maricopa Fire/Medical Department responded to an adult drowning call at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the Senita subdivision.

MFMD Spokesman Brad Pitassi said the woman’s family initially found her in the pool. Once on scene, crews reported the woman was unresponsive.

“Maricopa PD is investigating, but the patient had an unknown downtime in the pool and she also had a do-not-resuscitate-order so she wasn’t revived,” Pitassis said. “It’s common for the elderly to have those be in our orders.”

Ricardo Alvarado, spokesman for the Maricopa Police Department, confirmed police are investigating the drowning.

“(The investigation) is typical in any drowning – adult or child,” Alvarado said.

A glow stick party is planned this month as part of Domestic Violence Awareness.

The Maricopa Police Department rolled out a youth-led intervention group on Oct. 3 at City Hall.

Mary Witkofski, Community Programs Manager with the police department, said MPD is the first law enforcement agency in the nation to implement the program as part of the Valley-based group Bloom365.

The MPD BloomCrew is made up of five local youth facilitators and eight adult mentors. The group provides peer-to-peer counseling, education and advocacy to teens while also promoting “smart choice in friendships and dating,” Witkofski said.

Mayor Price introduced the group during a city council meeting last week after he proclaimed October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Witkofski recognized Against Abuse Inc. and Eve’s Place as long-term service providers.

The BloomCrew will kick off its first community event Oct. 21 with a glow-stick party for children 10 to 13 years old inside Copper Sky Recreation Center from 3 to 6 p.m. The free event will feature games about healthy relationships, prizes, food and music DJ’d by the Be Awesome Youth Coalition.

According to a report by Bloom365, 1 in 3 teens will experience dating abuse.

Maricopa Community Alliance Against Substance Abuse Program Director Priscilla Behnke, said tweens are not too young to learn about domestic violence.

“It’s really the time they are coming into their own,” Behnke said. “They are starting to develop autonomy and they want relationships outside that nuclear family and if they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like they are not going to start adopting healthy relationships.”

The MPD BloomCrew will visit Sequoia Pathway Academy junior high students on Oct. 23 and will later attend a youth girls’ symposium for junior high students in the Maricopa Unified School District on Oct. 25.

In September, over half of the 96 contacts MPD Victim Assistance Program had with victims were “domestic and family violence related,” according to the most recent weekly report by City Manager Gregory Rose.

To contact a victim advocate call 520-316-6800.

Willie Lofton (PCSO photo)

A Maricopa teen has been arrested on several charges stemming from alleged assaults at Copper Sky earlier this month, after which videos were posted on social media allegedly showing him bragging about the incident.

Maricopa Police arrested 19-year-old Willie Lofton Oct. 7 on charges of assault, aggravated assault and criminal damage after allegedly starting multiple fights at Copper Sky on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5.

The first incident, according to MPD reports, occurred around 10 p.m. Oct. 4 when Lofton allegedly struck another individual in the face causing a concussion and multiple abrasions.

The MPD report alleges Lofton admitted assaulting the male individual after the victim said to Lofton, “Don’t stand by me like we cool.”

The following day, Oct. 5, at 11:15 a.m., multiple videos were posted to Lofton’s Facebook page allegedly showing Lofton bragging about the incidents while pointing out blood stains on the concrete near what appears to the be the Copper Sky skate park, and additional blood stains on his shoes.

The person filming, who police believe to be Lofton, can be heard saying “this is what I do for a living, knocking n—- out.”

The second incident also allegedly occurred at Copper Sky, roughly 11 hours after the videos were posted.

This time, according to the MPD report, Lofton allegedly began fighting several people at the park, striking one individual in the back of the head and then throwing “landscaping rocks” at a car as it drove away, causing damage to the vehicle.

According to multiple witnesses, the report says, Lofton then allegedly pulled a handgun from his waistband, pointed it at a group of people and told them “he was going to kill them all.”

When police responded, Lofton fled the scene with several of his associates.

Two days later, on Oct. 7, information obtained during the investigation led to Lofton’s arrest. During a post-arrest interview, the reports says, Lofton allegedly admitted to both incidents.

He was ultimately arrested on warrants related to theft and marijuana possession, and charged with two counts of assault (class 1 misdemeanors), one count of aggravated assault (class 2 felony) and one count of criminal damage.

If convicted, Lofton could face up to 21 years in prison.

He is currently being held on a $13,500 bond at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center, and is awaiting a bond hearing on Oct. 13.

2016 was the fifth year Maricopans gathered for a Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods (GAIN) event. Submitted photo

Maricopa Police Department is hoping to take advantage of fall weather to get residents more involved in the community and, by doing so, making Maricopa a safer place for all.

Submitted photo

MPD is participating in the Oct. 28 statewide event GAIN – Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods.

The majority of the country celebrates a similar event in August called National Night Out. However, those familiar with Arizona weather in early August know it’s not the best time to be having outdoor, community gatherings.

Arizona’s solution to beating the heat is to hold another event – GAIN – in the fall.

MPD volunteer and GAIN organizer Christine Fuller said 2017 marks Maricopa’s sixth year participating in the event designed to help neighbors become more familiar with one another.

“The idea is to get citizens to help with being the eyes and ears for the police department,” Fuller said. “People should know, if you see something say something.”

If you know your neighbors, she added, then you more or less know who is supposed to be around and who isn’t.

The program asks neighborhoods to set up block parties or HOA-sponsored events that include members of city government, law enforcement and emergency services.

They typically bring their big, shiny, fire trucks and police cars to show off to the kids at the mobile meet-and-greet.

This year, likely dignitaries include Mayor Christian Price, City Manager Gregory Rose and Police Chief Steve Stahl.

GAIN parties can go on for as long as they’d like. However, those expecting a visit should plan to receive it between 2-7 p.m. Some parties include competitions like Province’s Marshmallow-Golf Ball driving contest, while others embrace the spirit of Halloween.

There are no minimum requirements for the event, Fuller said. Parties can be as small as three or four houses, or as large as an entire subdivision.

All MPD asks is you register by Oct. 15 so your neighborhood will be added to the list of stops. If you don’t register by that time, Fuller said, it’s alright. Host the party and get to know your neighbors, and still contact MPD in case a spot opens.

Contact MPD Public Affairs Specialist Ricardo Alvarado at ricardo.alvarado@maricopa-az.gov to register.


This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

Submitted photo

State Troopers are at it again.

The Department of Public Safety plans to conduct a special detail on Wednesday targeting commercial vehicles on State Route 347 and Highway 84. According to Sgt. Steven Sekrecki, the detail will last from 7 a.m. to noon.

Sekrecki said DPS has received complaints about the behavior of commercial truck drivers in Maricopa and Stanfield, including dairy and cattle trucks. He said though the detail is focused on commercial vehicles, the participating law enforcement officers will stop any vehicle committing violations.

Maricopa Police Department and Arizona Department of Transportation are also participating.

DPS has been running special traffic details around Maricopa during the past year in an effort to slow down drivers. Sekrecki has said the goal is not arrests but compliance.

MFMD photo

Maricopa Police and Maricopa Fire/Medical departments are investigating a suspected case of arson after a car caught fire in The Lakes around midnight Tuesday morning.

The vehicle was parked in the driveway in front of the garage at the home on West Park Hill Drive. Witnesses said the car was doused in accelerant and set on fire by unknown subjects.

The homeowner tried to extinguish the flames and was burned on his arms and legs. He was transported to a hospital for treatment. Other members of the family and pets were treated before being allowed to return to the house, which had residual smoke.

Maricopa Wells Middle School

The Maricopa Police Department is investigating an anonymous threat sent to a Maricopa Wells Middle School student yesterday.

MPD Spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said the alleged threat was vague, but included “somebody coming to the school with firearms.”

Alvarado said the message was sent through a social media app that allows messages to be shared anonymously.

After the threat was reported to police by a school resource officer, MPD increased its patrols around the middle school and assigned its Detectives Division to investigate.

MPD interviewed the student who received the threatening message as well as “some other people that we thought may have been involved,” Alvarado said.

But so far the team has been unable to substantiate the threat or identify a suspect.

“We’ve tried to contact the social media app provider and tried to get information from it – who sent the message – but so far they have not been willing to help,” Alvarado said.

MWMS Principal Rick Abel said MPD and the Maricopa Unified School District are working together to identify the sender.

“Our No. 1 responsibility is keeping kids safe and we continue to take the necessary steps to meet that goal,” Abel said.

The name of the app used to facilitate the threat could not be confirmed by Alvarado. However, multiple message-sending apps for both Apple and Android smart phones have the capability for users to send anonymous messages, including the popular app “Sarahah.”

Civil asset forfeitures pay for police technology

MPD will use a drone as an investigative tool, paid for through civil asset forfeitures. Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa City Police Department is raising its game, technologically speaking.

MPD will soon acquire a state-of-the-art unmanned aerial system (UAS), poising them to become the only agency in Pinal County to enlist a drone to help with investigations and public safety administration.

During a presentation to the Maricopa City Council Sept. 5, concerns were raised by city officials about the cost of the UAS, a DJI Matrice 600.

Chief Steve Stahl said the machine comes with a price tag just north of $20,000. But, he said, the city need not worry about the cost.

Paid for entirely by civil asset forfeitures – the funds seized during investigations involving drugs, organized crime and other illicit activities – the machine cost taxpayers absolutely nothing.

“You can thank your criminals,” Stahl said.

Though similar in nature to the smaller aerial drones becoming popular with photographers and filmmakers, MPD’s model will have a bit more to it, Public Information Officer Ricardo Alvarado said.

The drone will be equipped with both thermal imaging (FLIR) and high-definition full-spectrum (color) cameras, he said. The machine would also be able to carry about 10-12 pounds of payload, meaning it could be used not only to locate a stranded hiker, but also to deliver life-saving water and food.

Laws surrounding drone usage have become stricter since their use has become more prevalent.

The Federal Aviation Administration has established regulations which prevent it from being weaponized by being equipped with firearms or explosives. And, for safety reasons, they also prohibit it from flying directly over crowds.

“We can’t fly over people, we can fly around people,” Alvarado said of its ability to zoom in and observe from a distance.

Fourth amendment laws will also still be applicable. In order to use it for surveillance, Stahl said, “we have to have a search warrant.”

Furthermore, any video recorded is subject to public records laws.

If the situation calls for it, Stahl added, the machine could be used to search for suspects or missing persons.

The same day as MPD’s presentation to council, an extensive search was conducted for a missing boy. The boy was found after about four-and-a-half hours.

“If we had had this system available, we would have found him in like an hour and a half,” Stahl said.

The most common use of the drone, Alvarado said, will likely be to capture detailed aerial photographs of collisions and accidents. This, he said, helps with investigations by shortening the time spent photographing the scene and, in turn, expediting the removal of wreckage and easing traffic congestion.

Other FAA regulations limit its flight ceiling to 400 feet above the ground or nearest structure, and limit its distance three miles, or less depending on visibility.

MPD also will have a special waiver allowing it to be used at night, something most drone users cannot do.

The department will also allow nearby agencies to enlist the drone’s help when necessary, including Customs and Border Patrol.

However, Stahl stressed, the drone would by no means be used to assist with immigration enforcement.

Maricopa Police Department Officer Joshua Hawksworth. Photo by Michelle Chance

A Maricopa Police Officer was recognized recently for his efforts enforcing DUI laws in the city.

Chief Steve Stahl nominated Officer Joshua Hawksworth in June for the Mothers Against Drunk Driving 2017 Law Enforcement Recognition and Awards Ceremony. Hawksworth accepted the award last week from the Tucson-based chapter of MADD Southern Arizona.

In 2016, Hawksworth had 57 DUI arrests, making up 30 percent of the entire department’s arrests in the category, according to the nomination form.

Hawksworth said his success is a product of what he has been taught.

“I guess I have a sense for applying the training I’ve received and I just basically apply what I’ve learned and what others have bestowed on me,” Hawksworth said.

In his experience, Hawksworth said most people he has arrested under suspicion of DUI are well over the legal blood-alcohol limit of .08 percent.

It’s a risk he said is not worth taking.

“A DUI is not just about you anymore. A DUI becomes about your family. You have the potential to lose your job and you’re definitely going to lose your license for a short period of time,” Hawksworth said.

In addition to obtaining various certifications, Hawksworth became the agency’s drug-recognition coordinator and participated in seven DUI taskforce deployments.

“Officer Hawksworth has made steps to not only improve the quality of his investigations, but also other officers’ through updating policies and obtaining additional certifications,” Stahl wrote in Hawksworth nomination form.

MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said the recognition demonstrates the department’s commitment to enforcing DUI laws.

“It also shows that with the money that we received from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, we put it to good use by training officers and providing them with the equipment to put up the numbers that Officer Hawksworth put up for the past year to win this award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving,” Alvarado said. 

MPD photo

Maricopa Police Department is slowing traffic on Maricopa Casa-Grande Highway after a construction vehicle tipped over on the shoulder at around 1 p.m.  

Photos taken by MPD show a dump truck lying on its side on the eastbound shoulder of MCG Highway.  

According to MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado, the dump truck, moving what appeared to be gravel, tipped over while “dumping its cargo and did it too fast.”  

No one was injured in the accident, Alvarado said. A tow truck has been called in to move the dump truck which could take a few hours.  

Both lanes remain open. However, MPD has slowed traffic in both directions as a precaution.  

Photo by Dean Crandall

American Legion Post 133 will host its annual appreciation barbecue for first responders Sept. 9 at the Maricopa Veterans Center.

First Responders Appreciation Day will celebrate local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical technicians from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“Basically this is to give back to those who have given so much for us and put their lives on the line for us. It’s our way of saying, ‘Thank you,’” said John Anderson, post service officer and director of the American Legion Riders Post 133.

Families of veterans and first responders are also welcome to attend, he said.

The post placed donation jars in various stores throughout the city two months ago to raise funds for the cost of the event.

“Thank you to the community for the donations that they have already provided to us,” Anderson said. “One hundred percent of the proceeds are going to First Responders Day.”

The Maricopa Veterans Center is at 44240 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway.

For more information call 303-589-9146.

Ted Huntington presents information on opioid abuse in Arizona. Photo by Mason Callejas

Eighty percent of heroin users start with addictions to prescription medication.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Police Department, in cooperation with the Be Awesome Youth Coalition, hosted a presentation Thursday about the effects of the “opioid epidemic” in Arizona, and across the country.

Ted Huntington with the ICAN Arizona organization led the presentation, which focused on identifying opioid addiction and mitigating the role of prescription pain medication in perpetuating what Gov. Doug Ducey has labeled a “crisis.”

MPD Chief Stahl said so far, the epidemic has yet to impact Maricopa the way it has in other parts of the state. With the help of presentations like Thursday’s, he wants to keep it that way.

“We’re fortunately behind the curve,” Stahl said at the presentation. “And we want to stay behind the curve.”

In 2017, between June. 1 and Aug. 8, Arizona saw 206 suspected opioid related deaths, 1,417 suspected opioid related overdoses, 105 babies born exposed to opioids, 1,071 doses of the opioid antagonist Naloxone (Narcan) administered and 1,045 overdose victims were revived.

John Koch, a reformed addict turned advocate who spoke at the presentation, said the actual numbers are much higher.

Koch works with several organizations which help distribute Naloxone. The data they keep, he said, shows a need for greater access to the lifesaving drug.

Currently, he said, pharmacies have a “standing order” for Naloxone which can now be purchased over the counter. For those who don’t have insurance and cannot afford the $30-$65 cost, he said, an organization he works with called Sonoran Prevention Works will deliver Naloxone, and teach how to properly administer the drug, free of charge.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa has made a list of Arizona’s 20 safest cities, ranking No. 5.

The ranking conducted by safewise.com takes into account the number and type of crimes committed per capita within the incorporated city limits.

The data is based on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2015 Uniform Crime Reporting statistics.

According to those reports, Maricopa experienced 14.17 crimes per 1,000 residents, sandwiching Maricopa between Gilbert (13.93) at No. 4 and No. 6 Oro Valley (14.44). Of Maricopa’s 14.17 crimes, 12 percent (1.72) were violent crimes and 88 percent (12.45) were property crimes.

Maricopa Mayor Christian Price attributes the successes to the police department’s commitment to protecting the city and maintaining the peace.

“Our police force is always doing their best to make us safer and safer every day, “Price said. “I’m very proud of them and happy that we have such a great city, such a wonderful place.”

The Maricopa Police Department maintains a motto of “making every contact excellent” which speaks to more than just enforcing the law.

MPD Chief Steve Stahl has said his department’s mantra is more about community building than excessive policing.