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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.

This is the current “tethered” model of the AXON body camera, shown mounted to eye-glass-type frames. Other mounting options include chest mounts, shoulder mounts and even accessories that allow the camera to be attached to other object such as batons which allows the officer to use the camera like a periscope to see over and around walls.  Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa Police Department is looking to upgrade their 2-year-old, on-body camera program with updated technology in the hopes that the already successful program will become even more efficient.

Since 2015 MPD has had more than 40 body camera units in use. As a result, the department claims civilian complaints are down significantly.

MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said from June 2015 to June 2016 the department received 20 citizen complaints. After equipping all on-duty officers with on-body camera units, from July 2016 to July 2017, MPD saw only six citizen-complaints directed at officers – a 70 percent decrease.

This decrease, Alvarado believes, is a result of citizenry being less likely to lodge frivolous complaints against officers, knowing they are on camera. Though he did acknowledge it could also be true that officers are less likely to abuse their power if they know they, too, are being watched.

“It’s not Big Brother watching you, but it is like somebody [saying], ‘Hey, would I normally do this,’” Alvarado said. “And, lieutenants and sergeants are required to go through and look at videos, not all the time, not every day, but randomly they’ll go through and say, ‘I want to see your video for the day.’”

Overall, Alvarado said, this success speaks volumes about the technology and its positive influence on civilian trust in law enforcement.

However, this isn’t to say the current system doesn’t have its shortcomings.

The units currently in service rely on the camera to be tethered to the officer with a short cord that can become detached with just a few pounds of pull. The cameras continue to record after they have become disconnected, though it slows the investigation process as the video must manually be taken from the camera.

To overcome this issue, within the next year or so, MPD hopes to acquire newer versions of the on-body cameras that stream video to cloud storage using Bluetooth technology. Alvarado said this wireless technology decreases the chances of disconnection while in the line of duty, thus enhancing the device’s productivity.

There are other issues that both the current units and prospective Bluetooth units possess, Alvarado said. An officer still has to start the camera themselves, and sometimes, in the heat of the moment, they can forget to do so.

“We’ve had incidents where when officers make traffic stops, by the time they get out of the car the violator is back at their car and it’s turned into a physical fight,” Alvarado said.

The battery for their current cameras give them a solid eight or nine hours of recording time, Alvarado said. Unfortunately, he said the issue is with data storage. The currently high-priced cloud storage technology makes continuous streaming cost-prohibitive.

At around $2,300 a piece, Alvarado said “the units themselves are reasonably priced; it’s the storage that’s expensive.”

Since the cameras record at 1080p, their average data consumption is around 24-26 gigabytes per hour, according to San Disk estimations. That means an average eight-hour shift, continuously recorded would need 192 gigabytes or more of data per officer. With eight officers per shift, and three shifts per day, they would need more than 4.5 terabytes of data per 24-hour period. At an industry average of about $0.01 per gigabyte, that is a potential $50 added to their storage bill each day, almost $1,500 added each month.

Until compression software becomes cheaper, or MPD can afford to host its own cloud servers, officers will likely continue to be required to press the record button.

One unique feature of their current units is a 30-second “buffer time.” The cameras record a short 30-second loop on internal memory. That loop allows officers to capture the 30 seconds prior to when they hit record. This means if an officer does press record immediately after they witness a crime or become engaged in an altercation, they will likely capture the incident on film.

Unfortunately, Alvarado said, the audio does not loop with the video, so it would only provide a portion of the story.

As technology improves, there is no doubt costs will become more manageable making continuous recording a likelihood in the near future.

In the meantime, the issue of body cameras becoming a standard piece of law enforcement equipment is not likely to exit the social dialogue.

As more and more reports surface of officer-involved shootings where body-camera perspective could have provided crucial details to the investigation, there is no doubt more and more departments will begin to assign their officers body cameras.

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A property at 19514 N. Pershing Street is set to be razed. Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa City Council agreed Tuesday to move forward with the demolition and removal of three Heritage District properties that are considered to be in “blighted condition.”

The three properties – 44548 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway, 44536 W. Burkett and 19514 N. Pershing –  are all located just to the east of the Copa Center and Spoons restaurant, which are slated for demolition to make way for the overpass.

The city is acting as a facilitator, with of a Limited Power of Attorney, to remove “dilapidated structures currently located on the subject property,” and to coordinate with utility companies, demolition companies and waste disposal to facilitate the removal of blighted property in the area.

The city will pay for demolition and clean-up of the properties with money from a Community Development Block Grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Miguel “Mike” Diaz, a partial owner of the Maricopa-Casa Grande and West Burkett properties and sole owner of the Pershing property, told InMaricopa last spring he is not too worried about the overpass moving in next door.

Though demolition will take portions of his properties and forced out one of his tenants, it won’t affect the majority of Diaz’s land, including his own residence.

Arizona Department of Transportation has already demolished some of the Heritage District homes it purchased for the overpass project. The bidding process for the SR 347 overpass construction contract is currently underway. Actual construction is set to begin sometime in October.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Police Department celebrated its 10-year anniversary Tuesday with a special display of select equipment and resources at Maricopa City Hall.

On display were various items used by the department’s Special Response Team (SRT) and Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Also present were members of police Support Services, PD Explorers, and Volunteers in Police Service.

During the City Council’s regular meeting, charter members of the department where honored with a special video highlighting their decade of service to the City of Maricopa.

Mayor Christian Price presented the special proclamation while recognizing the growth of the city and the department, which had 17 members in 2007, and now has 88.

MPD Chief Steve Stahl accepted the proclamation on behalf of the nine charter members still with MPD, all of whom, he said, maintain a special place in city history.

“We’ve received outstanding support,” Stahl said of city management and citizens alike. “You can’t have a safe city without outstanding support from our elected leaders, both current and past, and our citizens.”

Stahl further acknowledged the people he considers the unsung heroes in this equation – the families of officers.

“You have given all of us the journey, the ability to lead, and you’ve displayed faith in us to keep your loved ones safe, and we take that very seriously,” Stahl said. “But we also take the support you give us to heart. Thank you all for all of this.”

For information on volunteering and other things you can do to support the Maricopa Police Department visit www.maricopa-az.gov/web/police.

Ariel Vizcarra-Garcia. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man temporarily escaped police custody early Sunday morning after being arrested for an alleged domestic violence incident that occurred the previous night.

According to reports from the Maricopa Police Department, Ariel Vizcarra-Garcia, 20, was being prepared for transport to the Pinal County Adult Detention Center on charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage when the alleged escape took place.

Officers were planning to place Vizcarra in a transport vehicle when he allegedly became sick and started to vomit, the report said.

The escorting officer reportedly uncuffed one of Vizcarra’s hands to allow him to brace himself while he vomited in the rocks near the sally port in the rear of the main police station.

While partially uncuffed, Vizcarra then allegedly broke loose from the escorting officer’s grip and scaled a metal fence surrounding the department’s vehicle pool.

Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said Vizcarra successfully evaded officers’ initial attempts at capture, and an area-wide search was quickly initiated.

Despite help from Ak-Chin Police and Customs and Border Patrol, Alvarado said they were unable to immediately locate Vizcarra.

However, knowing he lived relatively close to the police station, Alvarado said, officers went to Vizcarra’s house, where he showed up a short time later and was detained without further incident.

In addition to the initial charges, Vizcarra is now facing charges of theft for fleeing with the handcuffs and escape in the third degree – a class 6 felony –  for escaping detention.

If convicted, Alvarado said, the escape charge is likely to make Vizcarra a “high risk” inmate, turning otherwise simple charges of criminal damage and disorderly conduct into offenses that could land him in a maximum-security detention center.

The MPD report states Vizcarra was initially arrested on the domestic violence related charges after a verbal argument with his “live-in” girlfriend turned violent when he allegedly began punching holes in multiple doors at the couple’s residence.

With charges combined, Vizcarra could face six years or more in prison if convicted.

Hezekiah Turner. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man was arrested on aggravated domestic violence charges June 27 after an alleged violent incident took place involving a family member.

A Maricopa Police report shows Hezekiah Turner, 20, was booked on charges of disorderly conduct and criminal damage after a verbal argument with a family member allegedly turned violent.

Turner, who in the past 15 months had been charged in three other domestic violence cases, allegedly began screaming and then punching multiple holes in the walls of a family member’s home, according to the report.

He then purportedly threw multiple items across the house, the report said, causing his family member to fear for their safety.

Upon reviewing Turner’s criminal record, police decided to additionally charge him with aggravated domestic violence, his fourth DV charge since April 2016.

“Due to Hezekiah being arrested for domestic violence more than three times in 84 months he is also charged with aggravated domestic violence, which is a Class 5 felony,” the police report stated.

In Arizona, a class 5 felony concerning repetitive dangerous offenses can result in five to eight years in prison.

Turner is being held at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center in Florence on a $2,500 bond.


Other Maricopa arrests:

Thomas William Clark, 67, was arrested by a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy June 30 on multiple charges. He was taken into custody in the 50000 block of West Val Vista Road.

Charges include possession of a weapon by a prohibited person, possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime, possession of dangerous drugs for use, possession of dangerous drugs for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Mauro Padilla Jr., 33, was arrested by PCSO on July 4 at 7 p.m. on Padilla Road. He is charged with criminal damage and disorderly conduct.

Russell E. Klock faces charges after an incident at John Wayne Parkway and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. PCSO photo

A Maricopa man has been charged with aggravated assault after allegedly following another driver home and threatening him with a firearm following a road-rage incident. The quarrel happened four days before a much-publicized road-rage confrontation this week.

Maricopa police reports indicate Russell E. Klock, 57, was arrested and charged with assault and aggravated assault after he allegedly punched a motorist during an altercation at a stoplight and then followed the individual home, where he proceeded to threaten him with a gun.

The initial altercation June 22 occurred at the intersection of John Wayne Parkway and Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway,where, according to the report, Klock, apparently angered by another driver, Edwin Gonzales, began a verbal exchange with him that escalated to a physical confrontation.

“The verbal altercation turned physical when Russell got out of his vehicle, approached the driver side of Edwin’s vehicle when the window was rolled down and struck Edwin on the left forearm, leaving a red mark,” the report stated.

Klock then allegedly followed Gonzales to his home where he threatened Gonzales with the firearm. Gonzales, “fearing for his life,” attempted to defend himself by throwing a shovel at Klock’s vehicle, but missed.

After attempting to retrieve the shovel from the street, Gonzales claims, Klock proceeded to chase him with his gun drawn and pointed at Gonzales.

According to the report, the two men then ran around Klock’s vehicle in a “clock-wise” direction when Gonzales began yelling for help, asking two neighbors who were outside at the time to call 911.

At that time Klock allegedly got back in his vehicle, yelled,“I know where you live,” and drove off, according to the report.

Based on the two witnesses’ statements, police proceeded to question Klock, who allegedly admitted to being involved in the incident, though he did not admit to drawing a weapon or pointing it at Gonzales.

Klock has been charged with assault for allegedly striking Gonzales on the forearm, and aggravated assault for allegedly chasing and threatening Gonzales with a firearm.

Arizona Revised Statute classifies the act of “Intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing any physical injury to another person” as a Class 1 misdemeanor Assault punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

The Arizona Revised Statute further classifies aggravated assault as simple assault “using a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument in the commission of the offense,” elevating the crime from a misdemeanor to a Class 3 felony punishable by 5-15 years in prison.

Monday, another road-rage incident on State Route 347 had drivers breaking each other’s windows at the stoplight at Smith-Enke Road.

To serve victims of sexual assault, domestic violence

The Maricopa City Council agreed Tuesday to facilitate an advocacy center for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

After an emotional plea by several members of the community, including abuse and violence advocates from multiple organizations, council unanimously agreed to take on the role as a public overseer of the center.

The center, funded by a conglomeration of grant money funneled through local governments and non-profits, will, among other things, function as a venue where victims of sexual assault or domestic violence can receive post-trauma assistance. An important aspect is sexual-assault testing.

Without a local advocacy center or hospital, victims of sexual assault must often be driven 30 minutes to an hour in order to be examined. This extended timeline is cited by law enforcement as a reason why victims often forgo testing.

County Attorney Kent Volkmer spoke at the meeting in support of the move, which he said is “absolutely vital” to helping him and his office obtain convictions.

“When the advocacy center is developed in a community, the amount of people that actually come and report and have those services performed and interviews done skyrockets,” Volkmer said.

Since 2015, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said, MPD has escorted 540 victims of sexual assault or domestic violence to hospitals and other advocacy centers for testing. He said the prolonged timeline and the lack of proper sexual-assault testing can lead to predators escaping conviction.

“I do not want a defense attorney to have an argument against our most vulnerable,” Stahl said. “That’s my job as a police officer, to get the best team together to collect all of the evidence.”

Debate about the FAC was not aimed at attacking its need. All involved in the conversation acknowledge that. The concern was directed at the city’s financial obligation.

Though the center is tentatively funded with grants and donations for the next five years, some officials expressed concern with the overall sustainability of the project, wanting to know what would happen if the funding fell through.

Councilmember Nancy Smith, though ultimately voting to approve the measure, questioned the city’s level of responsibility to what has been called a “regional issue” by both city and county officials.

“Why are you [Volkmer] standing here asking us to open it when your office is not there yet,” Smith asked.

To that, Volkmer said, the county is still not financially viable enough to fund another FAC on top of what they will already spend on testing and staff – roughly $100,000-$120,000 a year.

Eventually, he added, after several major projects are finished in Pinal County, they may be able to fund another center but that could be 2-5 years down the line. That’s 2-5 years of victims who are not getting the services they need.

As a stipulation of the agreement, council stressed MPD and city staff needed to continue to work with the county to address the long-term sustainability of the FAC.

MPD Chief Steve Stahl

Local law enforcement offered advice to the community Saturday on remaining safe and secure as summertime approaches in Arizona.

Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl along with MPD Detective Daniel Rauch engaged members of the community on a variety of topics at the Copper Sky Police Substation, most aimed at preparing residents for summer time in the valley.

During a presentation named “Safe Guarding your Property and Yourself During Summer,” Rauch reminded residents to continue to use common sense approaches to protect themselves in everyday life such as locking car doors, hiding valuables and reporting suspicious activity.

Rauch’s advice, however, went beyond the typical precautions and offered seasonally important advice such as staying hydrated, planning outdoor activities in such a way that others are aware of your location and always bringing a cell phone.

With the heat comes the will to cool off, he said, thus residents should also be alert and cautious when children or people with special needs are in or near pools or large bodies of water.

With school soon to be out of session, Rauch reminded residents to remain vigilant but to also remember school-aged children will be out and about and that not everything they do should be considered criminally suspicious.

Rauch also advised homeowners who may be going away on vacation or who relocate seasonally to install security lights and maybe even consider planting thorny bushes and plants under windows to make it more difficult to access.

The idea, he said, is to “make yourself less attractive” to would-be thieves.

MPD also emphasized its security camera registration system, which would allow them to know exactly where security cameras may exist so they can utilize the footage to help solve crimes. If more residents registered their cameras, Stahl said, MPD wouldn’t have to waste time and resources going door to door asking if nearby residents had surveillance footage of crimes.

Another topic of conversation was the recently passed “Good Samaritan” law, which in will allow Arizonans more freedom to act in the event they find an animal or person locked in a hot vehicle.

The law dictates citizens may break into a vehicle so long as it is “justified” and the acting individual can reasonably explain why they did it. The law also says that person must make a reasonable attempt to find and notify the owner of the vehicle. To that, Stahl said its best to “use caution all the time.”

“I wouldn’t want it to be the first reaction,” Stahl said. “First, call 911.”

Maricopa Police Department has confirmed the names of the couple found dead in a Sorrento home Sunday.

Glenn Gabriel, 69, and Sasha Gabriel, 67, died of gunshot wounds it what is being called a murder-suicide.

Detective Daniel Rauch said Glenn Gabriel called MPD Sunday afternoon to say he had shot his wife. Sasha Gabriel reportedly was suffering from a terminal illness. When police responded and entered the house, they found both husband and wife deceased.

Glenn Gabriel left behind a note, Rauch said.

Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa Police Department conducted a training exercise Wednesday in one of the buildings slated to be demolished to make way for the coming overpass.

The home, formally owned by Rilla Gomez, was purchased by ADOT as part of the SR 347 overpass project and has since been used as a tactical training ground for the MPD.

This is the third time the department has conducted training at the condemned property which Chief Steve Stahl said has provided his officers an opportunity for more hands-on training.

“Very rarely will we do stuff like this,” Stahl said. “But you have to train to push the envelope so you know you’re capable when that time arrives.”

MPD often has an opportunity to train in newly constructed homes, giving officers a chance to learn floorplans and layouts. However, Stahl said, in a new home there are drawbacks to conducting exercises like this.

“You always have to be careful not to break things,” Stahl said. “Here we have the opportunity to press the envelope a little bit more.”

Not being concerned with delicacy, officers were able to train using live training ammunition and real light sound diversionary devices (LSDD), otherwise known as flashbangs.

Arizona Department of Transportation public information officer Tom Herrmann said this will likely be the last training exercise at this property as demolition will likely begin in the next few weeks.

Construction of the SR 347 overpass at the Union-Pacific Railroad crossing is set to begin in the fall.

Schools near Pacana Park sent out letters to parents after an odd incident that got a man banned from city parks.

Maricopa Police responded to a suspicious-person call at Pacana Park Wednesday morning, April 19, after a female student was approached by an individual who began asking her questions about her age.

The 17-year-old Sequoia Pathway student reported the incident to school staff, who then contacted police. Officers questioned the 55-year-old man who was found still fishing at Pacana Park.

MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado confirmed the man, who has no criminal history, was not found to have committed any crimes. However, based on his response to certain questioning, he was indefinitely barred from returning to Pacana Park and Copper Sky Regional Park.

Other schools in the area were also notified of the incident and sent out letters to parents to explain the situation and offer safety tips.



MPD officers train for dangerous situations in a home set to be demolished in the Heritage District. The house was acquired by ADOT in preparation for construction of the overpass project. ADOT photo

While Lt. Mike Campbell hopes Maricopa Police Department officers never need to enter a home to remove a barricaded suspect, a partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation has helped them prepare, just in case.

With ADOT preparing to build a bridge carrying State Route 347 over the Union Pacific Railroad, officers have been able to train twice in a house acquired on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. The home eventually will be demolished to make way for a new alignment of Plainview Street that will connect Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway to Honeycutt Road and SR 347.

Campbell said the partnership ensures that the department’s Special Response Team has the opportunity to train for potentially life-or-death situations. That included practicing how to enter a home with a dangerous suspect inside, breaking down doors and methodically working their way through the building.

“There are very few opportunities for us to train for these rare but dangerous situations,” Campbell said. “Every time our officers can experience the challenges that come with entering a building in a hostile situation means we can do a better job if this kind of situation arises. This makes our officers better at their jobs and it makes Maricopa a safer place for our residents.”

ADOT photo

ADOT’s training collaborations like the one that took place this month in Maricopa date back to construction of State Route 51 in the early 1990s.

Just last summer, ADOT-acquired properties along the route of the South Mountain Freeway were used to train fire and law enforcement officers from more than a dozen agencies. That included SWAT teams using homes to practice responding to hostage situations and the Phoenix Fire Department, which trained 48 ladder companies and scores of new recruits.

ADOT works side-by-side with emergency responders every day, said Brian Rockwell, ADOT assistant chief right of way agent.

“Police officers willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect all of us in dangerous situations,” Rockwell said. “When we have the opportunity to help them train, as we did here, we’re not only happy to do that but we consider it part of our service to the community.”

Construction of the SR 347 bridge begins this fall. The two-year, $55 million project will carry traffic over the railroad tracks on a path just east of the current SR 347. It will alleviate congestion on a road that is expected to see traffic double to more than 60,000 vehicles a day by 2040 and save drivers the time of waiting for trains to cross the highway. The area now sees 40-60 trains a day, a number that is expected to reach 100 daily in the next 20 years.

ADOT photo

MFD personnel gather to work an accident scene on John Wayne Parkway. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

A four-vehicle bumper-to-bumper crash on John Wayne Parkway backed up northbound traffic Friday afternoon as first responders worked the scene. City of Maricopa Fire/Medical and Maricopa Police Department personnel were on site quickly after the accident just south of the intersection with Edison Road to evaluate any injuries and move traffic out of the area.

MPD cited inattention by the driver of a big box truck as the cause of the domino-effect impact. That truck ran into the back of a pest-control pickup truck, which hit the back of an SUV, which in turn hit another SUV, which had stopped for a red light at the intersection. A 14-year-old in the front vehicle was transported to a hospital as a precaution for neck pains.

Some fluids were detected leaking from the pest-control vehicle but were determined to be unharmful to the public. MFMD personnel used soaking agents to clear those and other liquids left at the scene. The accident was cleared by 1:30 p.m.

Besides profanity (edited in this photo) aimed at President Trump, graffiti at MPD had a political message. MPD photo

The Maricopa Police Department arrested a man earlier this month they believe to be responsible for vandalizing the main police station and parts of a nearby neighborhood with politically charged messages.

At approximately 4:03 p.m. on Feb. 8 the suspected vandal, Juan Hernandez-Sebastian, allegedly spray-painted profanity-laced political graffiti on a rear wall of the station located off White and Parker Road.

The messages made references to, among other things, President Trump and DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Sebastian was arrested later that same day when he was found walking along railroad tracks in a restricted area. He had in his possession spray paint, a violation of city code. Along with the code violation Sebastian was arrested and charged with two counts of criminal damage and a third count of trespassing. Impressions of his shoes were taken for a comparison to shoeprints found at the scene.

Painted on the MPD wall, alongside the references to Donald Trump and DACA, was another powerful, albeit subtle, political reference to Los Niños Héroes, or the Boy Heroes.

The Boy Heroes were a group of six young Mexican cadets known for defending to their deaths a castle near Mexico City during the Mexican-American War in 1847. The teenage soldiers all died while guarding the castle at Chapultepec from the massive American forces advancing on the capitol. For their fight, they have been elevated to a near legendary status in Mexico and thus have become a symbol of Mexican pride.

Maricopa Police spokesperson Ricardo Alvarado said the department is aware of the significance of the reference, however, there have been no other incidents of graffiti or vandalism where Niños Héroes were referenced.

It is unknown if the suspect made any statements about the messages while in custody.

If any residents have seen “Niños Héroes” in use around Maricopa or elsewhere in the valley, or are aware of any social movements or organizations using the reference, please contact InMaricopa’s editorial department at reporter@inmaricopa.com. In the email please include as many details as possible including location, affiliation and a photograph if possible. Sources may choose to remain anonymous.



Kathryn Sinkevitch is accused of murdering ex-boyfriend Michael Agerter in Maricopa.

Pinal County prosecutors have until March 7 to decide if they wish to seek the death penalty against a woman accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend in Maricopa.

Kathryn Sinkevitch appeared before Judge Kevin White in Superior Court Monday. The 32-year-old Tempe woman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Maricopa resident Michael Agerter, 31. He was shot to death Dec. 16 in the garage of his rental home in Rancho El Dorado.

Family members of both were in the courtroom.  The Agerter family sat in the front row, straining to see as Sinkevitch was led into the busy well of the court. Wearing eyeglasses and a maroon jumpsuit, Sinkevitch appeared in jail shackles, her hair in braids.

During the hearing, prosecutor Sean Coll’s motion to take DNA evidence from Sinkevitch was granted. Prosecution and defense have also filed motions regarding access to the rental home and the logistics of getting permission from the person currently controlling the property.

Coll also said his office was still studying the possibility of seeking the death penalty.

Public defender James Mannato said his case was “still a little up in the air” over that.

“We do not want the wheels of capital punishment to go into motion,” he said.

Agerter’s family is circumspect about the idea.

“I don’t know if she did this. If she did do it, I want her to pay for what she did,” Agerter’s mother Leslie Agerter said in an interview last month. “I’m not looking for revenge. Hopefully, the law will come up with the right punishment.”

Sinkevitch and Agerter had a child together, a boy who was only a month old at the time of his father’s death.

The oldest of the four Agerter children, Michael came to Arizona six years ago from Ohio for a job but remained close with his siblings. Leslie Agerter described her son as “a caring, giving person.”

She said he started dating Sinkevitch about three years ago. Kathryn came with him to Ohio a couple of times to visit family.

The relationship was “up and down,” Leslie Agerter said. Though Mike talked about backing away, he hesitated because she didn’t have a job at the time and would suffer financially from a breakup, his mother said.

Leslie Agerter said the family was unaware of domestic violence allegations until the day after Mike had to get medical treatment. She said he called and told them some of Sinkevitch’s violent behavior. She said Mike had planned to leave, but then Sinkevitch found out she was pregnant.

Leslie Agerter called it a “toxic relationship” that forced her son to file for an order of protection against Sinkevitch.

She said that was also why he moved to Maricopa. After an allegation Sinkevitch stole his dog and was showing up at the Maricopa property, he asked his landlord for permission to install security cameras.

He also filed papers to seek custody of the child, whom he never met.

“He was being a man and wanting to take care of his son,” his mother said.

Dec. 16, he had just given a DNA sample in the custody case and was heading back home to Maricopa when he called his sister in Ohio. Instead, his mother answered the phone. They spoke briefly before Leslie handed the phone to her daughter.

Brother and sister talked all during his drive home. Meanwhile, Leslie left her daughter’s house to return to her own home a short drive away.  When she walked in the door, she discovered her daughter had been trying to reach her.

“She said they were still talking when he got to his house. She said she just heard a bang,” Leslie Agerter said. “And he wasn’t there anymore.”

Neighbors on Sagebrush Trail reported gunshots to law enforcement. From Ohio, Leslie Agerter was also trying to reach Maricopa Police to ask someone to go check on her son, not knowing they were already responding to the scene.

He was discovered deceased in the garage. His family saw the scene online from various media outlets before the appropriate person at Maricopa Police Department could officially inform her of what had transpired.

Footage from the surveillance camera at the side of the garage showed a school bus driving past the house before a figure entered camera range from across the street. It was apparently a female in a hoodie that obscured her identity.

The person left camera range by walking into the garage. A few moments later, the person left quickly, crossing the street and getting into a white caravan, which left the scene.

Sinkevitch was arrested Dec. 22 in Avondale by U.S. Marshals Fugitive Taskforce.

“If it was her, she didn’t need to go to extremes,” Leslie Agerter said. “They could have talked through this.”

Arizona Department of Child Safety took custody of the child and allowed family visits.

During Monday’s brief hearing, Leslie Agerter sat at the back of the gallery, child in arms, before the case was called. When Sinkevitch family members sat next to her, she said nothing but the bailiff had them move to the opposite side of the room.

The next pre-trial hearing is set for March 27 at 9 a.m.

Yoane Moothory

A 19-year-old man has been identified as the suspect in a burglary that turned into a brief manhunt in Glennwilde.

Yoane Moothory faces felony charges of third-degree burglary, felony flight and possession of burglary tools.

Maricopa Police Department was alerted to a robbery in progress at around 9:48 a.m. from a home on West Prado Street in the Tortosa subdivision. The homeowner had returned to find a male in a black ski mask inside his home. The homeowner’s handgun was in the suspect’s possession.

The homeowner left the house to call 911. He told MPD a side window was broken and a strange car was parked in front. The suspect was seen leaving the house in the car.

The car eluded responding patrol units and was last seen entering the Glennwilde subdivision.

MPD set up a perimeter and began the search for the vehicle. When an officer in an unmarked police vehicle later found it, the car appeared to be unoccupied.

“While the officer was waiting for backup units to arrive, a second vehicle drove up and stopped,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said. “A male subject exited the passenger side of the vehicle and removed the temporary plate of the parked car and drove away.”

MPD made a traffic stop on the vehicle as it was preparing to leave Glennwilde through the north entry at Honeycutt Road. A woman and a child were in the car with the suspect, who was then identified as Moothory.

He was arrested without incident. According to MPD, officers also located a ski mask and the homeowner’s handgun.

MPD originally reported Moothory’s name as Nas

Mayor Christian Price was the swing vote in a decision not to accept a grant for MPD. Photo by Mason Callejas

The Maricopa City Council voted to reject a federal law enforcement grant on Tuesday that would have allowed the hiring of two additional officers to a police force that is currently overextended.

The council voted 4-3 against accepting a Department of Justice grant, citing the expenses the city would have to incur as part of a “cost sharing” requisite tied to the grant.

Had the grant been accepted, the city could have hired two new officers — a crime prevention officer and a youth liaison officer.

The three-year cost of hiring two entry-level officers is roughly $550,000. As part of the DOJ’s Policing Services Hiring Program (CHP) the grant would have awarded  $250,000 to the department to help cover the costs, leaving about $300,000 for the city to cover.

As the council heard presentations by Police Chief Steve Stahl, City Manager Gregory Rose and members of the community, an impassioned discussion occurred through which the burden of the decision was revealed.

Councilmember Peggy Chapados spoke in support of the DOJ grant, indicating the hiring of two new officers would likely not have been so contentious if the expense they currently incur for three school resource officers (SROs) was instead absorbed by the school district.

“I think that we have to acknowledge that we are footing the bill at 100 percent because MUSD has failed for two budget cycles, six years, to apply for a grant that would have funded those [SRO] positions,” Chapados said.

However, speaking to the issue at hand, Chapados felt “the burden falls on the seven of us and every director to come up with, in three years, the difference to fund and keep those [two new] officers.”

Councilmembers Nancy Smith and Vincent Manfredi, Vice Mayor Marvin Brown and Mayor Christian Price all expressed a strong will to work with MPD in addressing their needs. However, considering the uncertain economic landscape on the horizon, they could not bring themselves to support the added $300,000.

Smith emphasized she strongly supports law enforcement, but when considering the long list of future financial implications, such as a shifting financial burden with Copper Sky, unforeseen costs of the 347 overpass construction and the minimum wage increase, the risks are too great.

“It’s important to know that we support public safety,” Smith said. “ But we have to look at the risks.”

Councilmember Henry Wade, undeterred by the economics of the debate, joined Chapados, and later Councilmember Julia Gusse, voicing support for the grant. He agreed there are certain risks that need to be avoided but when it comes to the safety of the community and its first responders, those risks superseded any added costs.

“I don’t know how much one of those gun belts weighs, what that bullet-proof vest weighs, what the idea that ‘I’m leaving my family and I may not see them again’ weighs,” Wade said. “But I have a very difficult time looking at this in a numerical equation as opposed to the life of a person on the street.”

Price said he “wrestled” long and hard with this decision, knowing they may have to “sacrifice” another line item in the budget book; the difficulty being the line item could be another person’s job. He said, above all, the decision was about the mandate the council has to protect the interest of the constituents.

“So we talk about lives, but we also have 50,000 people that dictate that we live within our means,” Price said. “If I could, I would give you the dollars, Chief Stahl, to handle 50 more police officers tomorrow, but that’s not in that book, it’s not in the budget.”

After the votes were cast and the decision was made, Stahl expressed resolve, saying the department “will continue to pursue any and all options as they become available.”

He went on to say Maricopa was one of only two cities in Arizona offered the grant, and the DOJ may not place the city in such high esteem the next time the grants are being offered.

Earlier in the night when opening his presentation he gave assurance to the city that despite the department being overextended in some areas, and no matter the decision reached regarding the grant, “we [the department] are not bleeding. We will not bleed.”

Michael Agerter was found shot to death Friday. Footage from a surveillance camera at his house was released to the public today.

Maricopa Police Department has released footage from a surveillance camera recording at the house where Michael Agerter was shot dead Friday.

The footage shows a person in a long-sleeved hoodie approach the house on Sagebrush Trail, seconds after a school bus passes by. The person appears to be female. After walking out of camera range into the garage, the person of interest reappears after a few seconds and then quickly crosses the street and gets into a white minivan, which departs quickly.

Sagebrush Trail is in Rancho El Dorado near the intersection of Smith-Enke Road and Vintage.

Anyone with information in this case is asked to call 520-568-3673 or 520-316-6900.

MPD is still investigating a homicide in Rancho El Dorado. Photo by Mason Callejas

Maricopa Police Department has identified the man who was shot to death in his garage Friday as Michael Agerter, 31.

Officers responded the home in the 43000 block of West Sagebrush Trail at around 2:28 p.m. after receiving calls of shots being fired. The callers also described a possible female leaving the area in a white minivan, possibly driving. She is described as approximately 5-foot-5, wearing blue jeans and a dark-color hoodie.

The minivan left the area at a high rate of speed after the shooting.

Agerter was found dead from gunshot wounds. The weapon is described only as a handgun at this point.

“We believe this was not a random act of violence,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said.

He said detectives are looking at surveillance footage from the home.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call MPD at 520-568-3673 or the crime tip line at 520-316-6900.

Maricopa Police are investigating a shooting death on Sagebrush Trail. Photo by Mason Cajellas

Maricopa Police Department has identified the man who was shot to death at a home in Rancho El Dorado on Friday but cannot release the name publicly until next of kin is notified.

Finding those relatives in the Midwest has been difficult, according to MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

Police are also looking for information on a white minivan that witnesses saw at the house around the time of the shooting. The minivan may or may not be related to the incident, but police want to hear from anyone who may know the identity of the owner or the whereabouts of the van.

If the minivan is related to the shooting, the owner could face charges. No license plate number is available.

The incident was first reported to MPD around 2 p.m. Friday when witnesses described three shots being fired in the home on Sagebrush Trail. A man’s body was found in the garage. The medical examiner’s office transported the body Friday night and a positive identification was made.

Anyone with information on the white minivan is asked to call MPD on its non-emergency line: 520-568-3673.

The Maricopa Police Department is accepting state grant money to assist in DUI enforcement and community education programs beginning this winter.

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety GOHS) awarded the department a total of $63,348 for new equipment and traffic and driving-under-the-influence enforcement for 2017, the bulk of which is earmarked for officer overtime pay.

The city applied for the grants in October.

Of the funds, $20,000 is specifically designated for overtime compensation to help the department with DUI enforcement.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there were an estimated 1,200 alcohol-related traffic deaths during the 2015 holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day), a number these funds are designed to help curb.

An additional $4,300 is being awarded to purchase blood alcohol content, or BAC, testing equipment, including six new Preliminary Breath Testing (PBT) machines and a phlebotomist chair to aid with blood testing.

Another $27,718 of the GOHS grant will be used to assist with regular traffic enforcement. Most of that money will also go to overtime pay, however the department plans to use a portion of the funds to purchase additional radar systems and new communications antennas. drunk-driving-logo

With remaining funds, the MPD plans to provide overtime for officer training and equipment purchases that will promote pedestrian/cycling safety education, and vehicle occupancy/Child Passenger Safety education.

According to the MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado, the city has benefited greatly from past GOHS grants, and their continued financial assistance is a reflection of the MPD’s performance.

“MPD has been fortunate enough over the years to receive multiple grants through GOHS,” Alvarado said. “This is in part due to the exceptional job our officers are doing, but also due to our ability to report results back to GOHS and show the funds are making a difference.”

Alvarado went on to say that with Maricopa’s continuing growth they will continue to partner with the GOHS, and others, to insure that the department will “grow efficiently, provide services to the community, and keep up with technological advances.”

Each fall the GOHS provides grants to qualifying police and fire departments across the state to assist overtime funding and equipment purchases that will promote public safety.

The Maricopa Police Department honored its own with an annual award ceremony. The Maricopa Police Foundation hosted the dinner at Province Nov. 5.

Officer of the Year: Kevin Mellor
Sergeant of the Year: Joshua Paulsen
Civilian Employee of the Year: Kimberly Clark
Volunteer of the Year: Libby Pedrazzani
Explorer of the Year: Ethan Griffin

In addition, meritorious service coins were presented to Commander James Hughes, Officer Chris Evans, IT Peder Thygesen and IT Thomas Brannon.

Guest speaker at the ceremony was FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael DeLeon.

Burglary of unsecured vehicles parked on streets or driveways remains a top crime in Maricopa, which still has one of the lowest burglary rates in the state.

Using FBI crime numbers from 2015, a national security company named Maricopa to its Top 10 list of burglary-safe Arizona cities.

Maricopa is No. 8.

Protect America’s annual list is comprised of data from the FBI Uniform Crime Report. That reported 94 burglaries within Maricopa’s population of more than 48,000 last year.

“A lot of the credit does need to go to the community members who look out for each other, who talk with each other,” Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl said. “We live in a community where people really do care about each other. Whether it’s a brand new development or the Heritage District where everybody knows everybody, we look out for each other, and that’s what makes a safe community.”

Stahl said the third-highest call for service is suspicious activity. He views that as a sign residents are watching their neighborhoods.

“Our hope in creating these Top 10 lists is to raise burglary awareness and offer home security tips to communities that need them,” said Zane Schwarzlose, community liaison with Protect America.

Maricopa was the second-largest Arizona city in the so-called Safe Zone. Gilbert was No. 9 on the list. No. 1 in the Safe Zone was Florence with just 1.26 burglaries per 1,000 people, though Stahl pointed out the stats include prisoners in population numbers. Meanwhile, Tolleson had the highest ratio of burglaries to residents last year at 31 per 1,000 people.

Chief Steve Stahl
Chief Steve Stahl

“We value CompStat. We look at daily crime, daily trends, weekly trends,” Stahl said. “And if we are seeing a concern, the operations commander collects his people to address those things.”

That involves a crime analyst and a partnership with the Arizona Fusion Center to find likely suspects. When burglaries and thefts increase in a neighborhood, analysis helps officers find a cause.

“It could be one a variety of things: Somebody just got released from jail and now they’re back to their old ways; it could be that the HOA made some new rule that not everyone has to keep their coach lights on all the time anymore; it could be somebody new moved into the neighborhood,” Stahl said.

With CompStat, MPD identifies problems and develops a plan to approach the problem, including officers canvassing on foot.

The key to successfully finding a deterrent is the “relentless follow-up.” For Stahl, that means, “solving that problem to the chief’s satisfaction.”

He credits volunteers and their house-watch program with being a great crime deterrent. The program gives MPD another marked vehicle and another set of eyes in neighborhoods.

The most common theft in Maricopa comes back to residents’ behavior – allowing possessions to be easy pickings.

“Unfortunately, at least seven out of 10 of our break-ins are unlocked vehicles and open doors and open windows,” Stahl said. “I mean, everybody wants to enjoy the nice, cool nights now. People still need to vigilant and take measures to protect themselves.”

Unlocked cars parked on streets or in driveways, especially unlighted driveways, are a particular temptation. Stahl has always asked residents to park their vehicles in their garages, but simply locking vehicles is a burglary-prevention tactic.

“Most bad people, if the door is locked and you haven’t left anything visible in the car, they’re going to go to the next car,” Stahl said. “If they have to force their way in, they’re going to leave some evidence behind.”

Report: http://bit.ly/2ebQ0Pq

2016 Arizona Burglary Safe Zones
1. Florence: Population 26,926, Burglaries 34 [1.26 burglaries per 1,000 people]
2. Mammoth: Population 1,476, Burglaries 2 [1.36]
3. Sahuarita: Population 28,067, Burglaries 44 [1.57]
4. Thatcher: Population 5,065, Burglaries 8 [1.58]
5. Marana: Population 41,302, Burglaries 69 [1.67]
6. Willcox: Population 3,569, Burglaries 6 [1.68]
7. Oro Valley: Population 42,258, Burglaries 79 [1.87]
8. Maricopa: Population 48,193, Burglaries 94 [1.95]
9. Gilbert: Population 247,324, Burglaries 530 [2.14]
10. Sedona: Population 10,340, Burglaries 25 [2.42]

2016 Arizona Burglary Hot Spots
1. Tolleson: Population 7,029, Burglaries 219 [31.17]
2. Miami: Population 1,771, Burglaries 42 [23.72]
3. Quartzsite: Population 3,613, Burglaries 65 [17.99]
4. Globe: Population 7,333, Burglaries 89 [12.14]
5. Wickenburg: Population 6,760, Burglaries 69 [10.21]
6. Holbrook: Population 5,007, Burglaries 48 [9.59]
7. Apache Junction: Population 38,519, Burglaries 352 [9.14]
8. El Mirage: Population 33,985, Burglaries 282 [8.30]
9. Glendale: Population 240,374, Burglaries 1,986 [8.26]
10. Phoenix: Population 1,559,744, Burglaries 12,798 [8.21]

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Tessa Milne talks about surviving with domestic abuse.

Maricopa Police Department responds to 50-70 domestic violence calls a month, and Chief Steve Stahl calls them among the most dangerous. The community has resources to respond to and help prevent these issues, which were discussed throughout the month of October.

Perry T. Taylor is accused of grappling with an MPD officer. (PCSO photo)

A Maricopa Police Officer was released from a Chandler hospital after sustaining minor injuries during a physical altercation which took place while conducting a traffic stop Oct. 21.

Officer John Soanes initiated a stop at around 6 a.m. on a vehicle that he had seen allegedly driving recklessly down John Wayne Parkway. After following for a short time the vehicle came to a stop in the QT parking lot at Edison Road, where the driver then exited the vehicle and began to engage in a verbal confrontation with Soanes, according to the MPD report.

The driver, a Maricopa man now identified as Perry T. Taylor, refused to provide the officer with identification, and when Soanes attempted to detain Taylor until positive identification could be made Taylor became combative and a struggle ensued, the report stated.

Officer Soanes’s glasses were broken, and he sustained minor injuries during the confrontation but in the end was able to subdue Taylor. Soanes’ injuries were treated at a Chandler hospital, and he was released later that day.

Taylor was arrested and initially charged with five different crimes, including aggravated assault on a peace officer, dangerous driving, criminal damage, failure to identify and failure to comply.

The official complaint from the County Attorney’s Office charges Taylor with assaulting Soanes, a Class 5 felony, criminal damage and failure to comply with a police officer, both Class 2 felonies.



Michael J. Davis (PCSO photo)

Maricopa Police officers arrested a man on an assault charge after a violent domestic altercation on the morning of Oct. 21 only to later discover that he was wanted for allegedly shoplifting beer from a convenience store the night before.

Thursday night, MPD responded to a report of shoplifting at the Good to Go Gas Station on John Wayne Parkway. The unidentified subject reportedly took two 18-packs of Budweiser beer and fled from the store on foot. Officers searched the area but were ultimately unable to track down the beer bandit, or recover the stolen merchandise.

The following day at approximately 6:20 a.m. MPD made contact with Maricopa resident Michael J. Davis in reference to a domestic violence report. Davis was taken into custody and photographed by the MPD after being charged with assault. He was then transported to the Pinal County Detention Facility for booking.

Later Friday morning, surveillance footage of the convenience store from the night before was obtained and compared to the photos taken of Davis. Police determined Davis was the man being sought for allegedly stealing the brew and thus an additional accusation of shoplifting was made.

Total value of the beer was said to be $27.98, an amount well under the $1,000 floor for felonious theft. However, theft of anything less than $1,000 is a Class 1 misdemeanor in the state of Arizona, a crime punishable by up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Davis could face additional punishment if also found guilty of assault, a crime that carries a potential incarceration period of as little as one month to as much as 15 years, depending on the of severity of the crime.