Authors Articles byKyle Norby

Kyle Norby

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Tammie Helton

A Maricopa woman who went missing over the weekend has been found deceased, according to Maricopa Police Department.

Tammie Francene Helton, 57, walked away from her home in Maricopa on West Rosa Road on July 11 and had not been seen since. According to a social media post made by MPD, Tammie was said to suffer post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and had a history of suicide attempts.

At around 10 a.m. today, Tammie was found dead in the desert area just east of the location she was reported missing from.

“It appears Tammie succumbed to the elements and intense heat. A full autopsy will be conducted and MPD is awaiting this report,” MPD spokesman Ricardo Alvarado said. “Thank you all for the tips submitted on the possible whereabouts of Tammie.”

Information will be updated as it becomes available.

Stagestop Marketplace

A Maricopa man arrested last Tuesday faces charges after he was discovered by police at the U-Haul rental area of the Stagestop Marketplace.

Benjamin Thompson, 42, was charged with third-degree burglary, possession of a burglary tool and possession of drug paraphernalia, police said.

According to police, an officer traveling westbound on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway around midnight on July 7 observed the illuminated taillight of a U-Haul moving van as well as a white sedan parked in between two moving vans. Police stopped in the Stagestop parking lot and saw a man standing in front of the sedan. The man, later identified as Thompson, quickly ducked after seeing the police vehicle, police said.

After setting up a perimeter, officers located Thompson hiding in the brush just east of the parking lot. At the U-Haul parking lot, police said they found a red five-gallon can full of gas where Thompson was first seen. A clear plastic tube and a fuel cap was found nearby, police said.

Police said they located a glass pipe on the driver’s seat of the sedan. Thompson allegedly claimed ownership of the pipe and stated he used it to smoke methamphetamine, police said.

Thompson was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail. A Tuesday hearing was scheduled.

A Maricopa man is facing multiple charges after being caught under someone’s car July 3.

Daniel Danforth, 34, was charged with burglary, attempted theft, criminal damage and possession of burglary tools during the incident, local police said.

Around 9 p.m., Maricopa police were dispatched to the parking lot of Sun Life Family Health Center on John Wayne Parkway after receiving a call reporting an unidentified male under the caller’s parked vehicle.

The caller told police he was walking out of the adjacent business when he saw the man, later identified as Danforth, under his vehicle and confronted him. Danforth denied being under the vehicle and fled the scene in a green pickup truck, police said.

While investigating, officers found damage to the exhaust pipe of the victim’s vehicle near the catalytic converter, an exhaust-emission control device that reduces toxic gases and pollutants emitted by the vehicle. Police observed a large cut in the metal in an apparent attempt to steal the converter. The cut was consistent with the use of a portable electric saw, police said.

The following day, officers spotted a green pickup truck and a man matching Danforth’s description driving past Copper Sky. Police stopped him and noted a portable electric saw and a freshly cut catalytic converter inside the vehicle. Danforth admitted to the attempted theft of the converter from the previous day because he lost money at the local casino and planned to sell it, police said.

Danforth was placed under arrest and found to be in possession of 0.6 grams of methamphetamine in his pant pocket, according to the report.

Danforth was booked into Pinal County Jail.

Donald Gadson (PCSO)

A Maricopa man was arrested on multiple charges after a shooting Sunday in Rancho El Dorado that sent one victim to the hospital.

Donald Gadson, 33, was charged with aggravated assault, endangerment, disorderly conduct, criminal damage and weapons misconduct after a physical dispute broke out between Gadson and another man, identified as Kalib Kimbrough, police said.

Police responded to multiple calls on West Hall Court in reference to a fight taking place in the area. Officers arrived at Gadson’s home after details from nearby neighbors claimed Gadson had opened fire on a fleeing vehicle. Maricopa officers located three shell casings in front of Gadson’s home and proceeded to clear the residence.

The firearm in question was found on a pool table near the front door, police said. When making contact with Gadson, police reported seeing injuries to the left side of his face.

According to the police report, Gadson said he was a tattoo artist and had gotten into a fight with Kimbrough, the boyfriend of his intimate partner’s cousin. He told police that he had received a Facebook message from Kimbrough that read, “CAP i’m outside”.

When Gadson came outside, he claimed Kimbrough was in a fighting stance in the driveway. Kimbrough allegedly approached Gadson in the garage, picked him up and slammed him to the floor. Kimbrough allegedly began holding Gadson by his dreadlocks and punching him in the face as well as hitting him with a license plate found in the garage, police said.

Kimbrough began heading back to his vehicle, and Gadson told police he was fearful Kimbrough was going to come back with a gun. In response, Gadson said he made his way to a dresser in the garage to obtain a firearm in the top drawer, which he began firing at Kimbrough.

Gadson said he thought he struck the rear window and rear door of the vehicle.

Maricopa Police dispatch was later contacted by the Casa Grande Police Department, which had officers with Kimbrough and his girlfriend near the Frito Lay plant on Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway. CGPD stated Kimbrough had a gunshot wound and was being airlifted to Casa Grande Banner Hospital. Kimbrough was transferred to Chandler Regional Hospital and is currently in stable condition, police said.

Gadson was placed under arrest and booked into Pinal County Jail.

State Sen. Vince Leach and House of Representatives Mark Finchem and Bret Roberts will take questions from voters starting at 10 a.m. on the InMaricopa Facebook page.

Elected officials in Arizona’s 11th Legislative District will visit the InMaricopa offices on Tuesday for a Facebook Live Q&A.

State Sen. Vince Leach and House of Representatives Mark Finchem and Bret Roberts will take questions from voters starting at 10 a.m. on the InMaricopa Facebook page.

All three candidates are seeking re-election.

Leach is seeking his second two-year term in office. Previously, he was a state representative from 2015 to 2019. Finchem has represented District 11 as a state representative since January 2015. Roberts was elected in 2018 to the state House, succeeding Leach who ran for the state Senate.

District 11, one of 30 in the state, is composed of sections of Pinal and Pima counties. As of 2018, the district had a total registered voter population of 135,364.

A suspect was arrested after a shooting Sunday in Rancho El Dorado that sent one victim to the hospital.

The suspect, who has not been identified, allegedly fired into a vehicle that was driving away from the scene of a dispute between individuals around noon Sunday, according to Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

Three shots were fired at the car, injuring the passenger, according to police.

Police did not provide a street address for the shooting.

“The victim was struck and later flown to a Valley hospital in critical condition but later upgraded to stable condition,” Alvarado said. “We are not looking for outstanding suspect(s) and this doesn’t appear at this time to be a random act of violence. The suspect was arrested and booked into PSCO jail in Florence.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

A Maricopa woman is facing assault charges after her arrest early Thursday morning.

Katrina Montano, 37, was charged with aggravated assault and two counts of criminal damage after an incident with her husband, police said.

Around 5 a.m. Maricopa police said they were dispatched to a home on West Almira Drive in Glennwilde for a report of an alleged assault. Arriving at the residence, officers made contact with Katrina Montano and questioned her about the situation, police said. Montano told police that she had driven to another woman’s house in Homestead to confront her husband, identified as Estevan Montano, for allegedly cheating on her, police said.

According to the police report, Montano said she located her husband on the side of the woman’s home and struck him several times in the face and back with a baseball bat. Several windows were also damaged at the home as well as the front door and Estevan Montano’s vehicle, according to police.

Montano was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail, police said.

Branden Wiley and David Santos (PCSO)

Two Casa Grande men are facing drug charges after their arrest Tuesday in the City of Maricopa.

Branden Wiley, 39, and David Santos, 32, were charged with possession of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia after a police officer contacted them for illegal dumping in Homestead, police said.

Around 2 a.m., a Maricopa police officer noticed a Ford F-150 driving around homes still under construction, stopping in front of several dumpsters used by the builders. Two males were seen getting out of the truck and allegedly started throwing items from the truck bed into the dumpsters, police said.

When contacted by police, the two men identified each other as Wiley and Santos. They allegedly kept discarding items into the dumpsters until ordered to stop by the officer. When questioned about any illegal items in the vehicle, the two men seemed nervous, and Santos would only look at the ground. Wiley denied permission for the officer to search his vehicle, according to the police report.

A K-9 unit was requested to assist on scene. K-9 Murphy performed a search around the vehicle and alerted officers to something on the front left side of the pickup truck. A full search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a “torch lighter” in the center console and a small Ziploc bag of crystallized white substance in an overhead compartment. The substance tested positive for methamphetamine, police said.

Wiley and Santos claimed the meth was not theirs and continued to deny ownership of the items.

Both men were booked into Pinal County Jail.

Ike and K-9 officer Craig Curry. (MPD)

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said Tuesday it will investigate the tragic and suspicious death of a Maricopa K-9.

On Monday night, Maricopa Police Chief Steve Stahl announced in a YouTube video titled “Critical Incident Notification” that the dog, Ike, died from “heat-related causes.”

Stahl said he had requested DPS to look into the K-9’s death over the weekend for accountability and transparency reasons. The circumstances of the Friday night incident are unknown and the animal’s department handler was not identified.

K-9 Ike had served the Maricopa police force for almost 11 years before his passing, Stahl said.

“Officers and professional veterinary staff locally and in metropolitan Phoenix did everything possible to save his life,” Stahl said. “Ike passed away on Saturday June 27th at approximately 4 a.m. This loss impacts us all greatly.”

Sgt. Kameron Lee of DPS said Tuesday morning that he could only confirm that the agency was in the early stages of conducting an investigation.

“We don’t have any additional information to release at this time,” Lee said.

 

Maricopa police, firefighters and EMS responded to a crash at SR 347 and Honeycutt Avenue just before noon Monday. There were no serious injuries, according to Fire Deputy Chief Chris Bolinger.

“(It was) a two-vehicle accident. No patients transported via ambulance and extrication was not required,” he said.

Traffic was reduced to one lane at the scene but has since opened back up to regular traffic.

There has been no official announcement, but Aaron’s rent-to-own apparently will close its Maricopa location on July 21.

The news came as a surprise to many longtime customers of the lease-to-own retailer who received brief phone calls to inform them of the closing date and recommend they shop at Aaron’s locations in Casa Grande or Chandler.

“I only found out when I went in the other day to look at a washer. The Maricopa branch manager said he himself found out from corporate the day before what was going on,” Maricopa local LaBelle Herrera said. “I asked, ‘Is it due to the virus?’ They said it’s part of the reason.”

In a Second Quarter business update to investors on the impact of COVID-19, the company predicted a 15% loss in second quarter earnings compared to last year, primarily due to the pandemic.

“As Progressive’s retail partners begin to reopen their stores, the Company is experiencing a recovery in invoice volume from a low point in April 2020 and expects this improving trend to continue,” the business brief states.

Aaron’s rent-to-own opened its Maricopa location in 2012 in the Edison Place shopping center off John Wayne Parkway. LaBelle said she had been there on a few occasions to shop for appliances and was surprised to see it almost empty when she was shopping Wednesday.

“The store was still clean and all but very few items, I was looking for a washer and they only had one on the floor,” she said.

With much of the store’s inventory being transferred to the Casa Grande location, staff is expected to relocate there as well.

InMaricopa reached out to Aaron’s Maricopa manager as well the corporate PR department, but have yet to receive any comment on the closure.

With Independence Day right around the corner, many folks have one thing on their mind – fireworks.

This year, the City of Maricopa will stage two simultaneous high-altitude fireworks displays, instead of the traditional display at Copper Sky Recreation Area due to COVID-19 guidelines. The park will be closed at 6 p.m. and residents are encouraged to view the displays from their homes and backyards.

As of 11:30 a.m. Friday, 323 people had answered our informal poll on Inmaricopa.com, which asked: Do agree with the City’s plan for fireworks this year?

65% of voters agreed with the plan, while about 27% did not. Eighth percent of those who voted did not know how they felt about it.

On Facebook, commenters expressed opinions on the topic.

“I agree with this difficult decision. It’s true we need to figure out how to resume daily life as safely as possible, and we shouldn’t shut down again but a large public gathering is a REALLY BAD idea for the moment,” commented Ivan Pour. “I applaud the city for responsibly recognizing this reality while allowing the fireworks to continue!”

Others believed the $25,000 for fireworks wasn’t the best use of the money.

“I would prefer just seeing a replay of previous years’ fireworks displayed on a big screen with tasteful music. Let’s start a new trend of not blowing up anything anymore. It is such a waste of money and harmful to our environment. Not to mention the stress it causes to vets and pets,” said Robin Delgado.

Other comments included praise for the City promoting a responsible plan in light of the COVID-19 pandemic people saying they were happy to relax at home to watch the light show.

A Maricopa man is facing multiple charges after police allegedly found $5,000 in counterfeit bills in his vehicle.

Patrick Kanoti, 33, was arrested Wednesday and charged with forgery, DUI and drug possession, according to police.

Kanoti was the subject of a welfare check by Maricopa police around midnight when officers approached his vehicle parked at QuikTrip on North John Wayne Parkway, police said.

Kanoti identified himself to police and an open container of alcohol was visible in the center console of his vehicle, police said. When an officer pointed out the open container, Kanoti allegedly attempted to flee the scene on foot before he was captured and detained by police in the parking lot, according to a police report.

Kanoti smelled strongly of alcohol and allegedly admitted to police that he had been drinking prior to driving to QuikTrip, police said. After performing a field sobriety test, officers arrested him for driving under the influence, police said.

When conducting a probable cause search of Kanoti’s vehicle, police allegedly discovered a baggie of marijuana and $5,000 worth of counterfeit bills. When interviewed at the city police station, he allegedly claimed ownership of the counterfeits, police said.

Kanoti was booked into Pinal County Jail but has since been released, according to Pinal County’s online inmate search.

Daniel Duenas (PCSO)

A Maricopa man is facing assault and disorderly conduct charges after his arrest Wednesday.

Daniel Duenas, 42, was charged after an incident with his girlfriend at their residence on North Gatun Avenue in Alterra, police said.

Around 6 p.m., Maricopa police arrived at the home and spoke with Duena’s girlfriend, who stated that he allegedly assaulted her. Officers observed obvious signs of physical injury to the shoulder area as well as her forearm. Scratches were also seen on her skin, police said.

The woman told police she tried to leave the home with her children but was allegedly grabbed by Duenas and told she could not leave. When police interviewed Duenas, he claimed he refused to let them leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic and denied assaulting her.

Citing the physical evidence, police arrested Duenas, who was booked into Pinal County Jail.

Should the City of Maricopa mandate the use of face masks? That is the big question being asked late this week after a press release from the City of Maricopa strongly recommended their use in public places.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s orders have been met with strong opinions on both sides of the issue, with many thinking it should be mandatory, while others simply refuse to wear them. The people of Maricopa have been stating their viewpoints in the comments section of our Facebook page and voting this week in two poll questions regarding face masks.

As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, 1,431 people answered our latest informal poll, which asked: Should face masks be mandated in Maricopa?

About 56% of voters do not believe that face masks should be required in the city, while about 43% believe they should be. About 1% of voters were on the fence on the topic

In a Facebook post by InMaricopa to promote the poll, the comments section saw some heated debate about the topic.

 

 

 

“Nope! People who have been wearing the masks have been getting sick. Those who wear the masks have created a false sense of security making them more confident in running all over the place and touching everything!” commented Marian Jolene Love. “The masks people are wearing aren’t even effective. It’s pathetic.”

Another Facebook user named Chelsey Crawford had strong feelings in support of mandated masks.

“This is ridiculous. Why can’t you just suck it up and wear a mask? I don’t enjoy wearing them either, but I have family and friends that I’d like to keep in my life, so I make the sacrifice of comfort,” she wrote. “Are you so selfish that you can’t be bothered to protect the human race?”

Other users replied with links to outside sources and YouTube videos as well as memes to get their point across.

In another informal poll published early in the week, readers were asked what they liked the least about wearing masks. Out of 359 votes, more than half agreed that the biggest problem is that masks make it hard to breathe. About 21% of voters stated they had never worn a mask at all.

Victor A Aguirre (PCSO)

A Maricopa man is facing assault and disorderly conduct charges after his arrest Saturday.

Victor Aguirre, 29, was charged with domestic violence assault and disorderly conduct after an incident at a residence on West Alexis Avenue in Homestead, police said.

Around 10 p.m., Maricopa police dispatch received a call from a woman who said her brother, Victor Aguirre, was being aggressive after a verbal argument broke out over cleaning out the dishwasher. Police said Aguirre was said to be screaming in his sister’s face, not liking the way she talked to him. She told police the home was hers and she lived there with her father. Aguirre stayed there on occasion, she said.

While officers were en route to the home on the initial 911 call, the sister called again to report Aguirre had left the residence and headed in an unknown direction, police said.

According to the police report, the sister and father told officers that Aguirre threw several items off the kitchen table as well as VHS tapes. Aguirre allegedly pushed his sister down on the couch, then pushed his father who tried to get between the siblings, police said.

Aguirre was found at a local park and arrested without incident. He was later booked into Pinal County Jail.

A hit-and-run driver caused a three-car accident on Thursday afternoon that blocked a lane of traffic on North John Wayne Parkway at West Smith Enke Road.

The driver of a pick-up truck drove off after rear-ending a black Kia Soul, forcing it into the back of a red Ford Fusion, according to police.

One driver was taken to a Valley hospital with life-threatening injuries, said Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

Police are searching for a “90’s model pickup with front end damage pulling a trailer, last seen heading north on 347,” he said.

If you have any information on the suspect, please contact Maricopa police. More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Anthony Alaniz (PCSO)

A Maricopa man is facing aggravated assault charges on an outstanding warrant after his arrest Thursday.

Anthony Alaniz, 22, was charged with aggravated assault on an officer on a warrant issued by Pinal County Superior Court in March, police said.

According to Maricopa police, officers were dispatched around midnight to a location near Desert Cedars on John Wayne Parkway in response to a report of an allegedly intoxicated man staggering into the roadway. When located by police, the man was identified as Alaniz. Making his way up the sidewalk of the SR 347 overpass, police contacted Alaniz, who identified himself.

Police dispatchers notified officers that Alaniz had a warrant out for his arrest with a bond of $2,000 for alleged aggravated assault of an officer, according to information from the Arizona Supreme Court.

Alaniz was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail.

House fire Senita
Fire consumes a home in Senita overnight Friday after firefighters had responded Thursday to put out a fire at the residence. Photo by Timi and Derek Jeske

Flames destroyed a home in Senita overnight after firefighters had responded Thursday to extinguish an earlier fire.

Photos and video taken by a neighbor show flames leaping from the roof of the home into the night sky, and then the burnt-out shell of the second floor.

Senita Home Reignites
Smoke rises from a burnt-out home in Senita early Friday morning. Photo by Timi and Derek  Jeske.

“At 4:12 this morning, Maricopa units were dispatched to a rekindling of a structure fire from yesterday,” MFD Deputy Chief Chris Bolinger said in a statement Friday. “The house was unoccupied throughout the night.”

Bolinger was unable to confirm social media reports that 13 family members lived in the house, but said eight people were inside the home at the time of Thursday’s fire, all of whom evacuated safely after being alerted by smoke detectors.  The home was unoccupied when the fire reignited early Friday morning.

The Red Cross was notified and placed in contact with the family on Thursday, according to Bolinger.

Maricopa firefighters responded to the initial fire on Thursday afternoon at the home at North Lousandra Drive and West Estrada Street. There were no reported injuries to firefighters and emergency responders.

The cause of the initial fire as well as the rekindling blaze is under investigation.

 

 

 

 

Photos by Kyle Norby

Maricopa firefighters responded Thursday to a two-story house fire at North Lousandra Drive and West Estrada Street in Senita.

City fire units and Valley partners were dispatched to the home in response to a dangerous fire believed to have started on the second floor. Multiple Maricopa police units redirected residents away from the street while fire crews suited up to enter the home. They made an aggressive interior attack on the fire while searching for people inside.

“We’re working toward extinguishment and some ventilation right now and getting primary ‘all clears’ on both the first and second floor,” MFD Deputy Chief Chris Bolinger said. “There are no reported injuries to any of the occupants or fire crews and the fire is currently under investigation. Smoke detectors alerted the residents to the fire which allowed all occupants to safely evacuate the building prior to Fire Department arrival.”

More information will be provided as it becomes available. The Maricopa Fire Department wants to remind the community that smoke detectors save lives, so please test them regularly and change the batteries annually.

A mystery man left Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino $40,000 richer Saturday afternoon.

According to information received from witnesses, a middle-aged man was seen playing the triple-reel dollar slot machines when “$40,000” flashed across the screen of the machine with brilliant bright lights and music.

“I was getting donuts in the Dunkin’ (Donuts) line and as I got my order and go to walk out the door, I heard someone yelling ‘Woo!’”Maricopa local Tyler Del Cotto said. “I walked over and by the looks of it, he had 40,008 credits so he was down to his second to last spin.”

Since its reopening on May 15 under COVID-19 social distancing and sanitation guidelines, Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino has been busy.

Asked about the big winner, Casino management would only confirm that someone, indeed, had won the large sum of money.

“Unfortunately, the person didn’t sign a waiver so we can’t release information (on their identity),” said Jennifer Schwegman, senior public relations consultant for Ak-Chin Harrahs.

The mystery winner may not be talking, but we know for certain he has a few extra dollars in his pocket this week.

“It’s a good day to win 40,000 dollars. I guess I shouldn’t have been the one buying the donuts,” Del Cotto said with a laugh.

A Maricopa man is facing disorderly conduct charges after his arrest Monday.

Ken Van, 53, was charged with domestic violence related disorderly conduct after an incident at their home on North Santa Cruz Drive in the Villages, police said.

Ken Van (PCSO)

According to Maricopa police, Van and his wife arrived home around midnight after a night of gambling and drinking at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino. The woman told police that her husband became angry when she went to the backyard and called her sister, taking her cellphone and throwing it away. She said Van continued to follow her through the house and began yelling at her. She attempted to get away from Van in their bedroom but the door had been broken down by her husband two weeks earlier, she told police.

The woman told police that she feared for her safety when Van drinks, alleging he had physically assaulted her in the past and acts in this way every two to three days. She said she has been too embarrassed to call 911 in the past, police said.

While on the scene, officers said they made multiple attempts to have Van call someone to pick him up and separate himself from the situation, but he refused. He appeared intoxicated and stated multiple times that he had done nothing wrong, police said.

Van was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail

Theft, specifically shoplifting, spiked during the stay at home order.

 

In recent weeks, national news reports have documented a rise in domestic violence and suicide cases as people quarantined at home during the pandemic.

“Now, with families in lockdown worldwide,” the New York Times reported in April, “hotlines are lighting up with abuse reports, leaving governments trying to address a crisis that experts say they should have seen coming.”

The City of Maricopa, however, has not seen dramatic increases in domestics and suicides, according to officials, though some other categories of crime have spiked in recent months.

According to data provided by the Maricopa Police Department, the category of assaults that includes reported domestic abuse has increased 5% in March over the same period last year. (There were 45 related arrests in March, officials said.)

Both Maricopa Police and Fire/Medical departments report they have seen no noticeable spikes in behavioral health calls, normally attributed to suicide and suicide attempts.

But that may not be the whole story.

Meagan MacCleary, community service program director of Against Abuse Inc., a Pinal County organization that provide services to domestic violence victims, predicts cases will stack up once the pandemic is over.

“Now, more than ever, victims have fewer opportunities to make private phone calls to reach out for help since they are confined in the home with their abuser,” she said. “It’s too early to have any statistics yet on exactly how much domestic violence has increased in Pinal County during this pandemic, but we are ready and prepared to assist victims who reach out once these unprecedented times are over.”

With this perspective in mind, organizations like Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) have created a guide on how victims can contact help safely during the small moments of solitude they have.

ACESDV strongly recommends victims create a hidden “go-bag” of essentials, including a phone charger, money, medication and food that can be quickly grabbed for an escape from an abusive household if needed. Victims may find it easier to call a domestic abuse hotline during a walk outside, assuming it is safe to do so.

The fallout of COVID-19 has led to an increase in other types of crime.

Statistics on crime occurring since the onset of the pandemic, for instance, show a strong spike in the number of thefts, mostly incidents of retail shoplifting, according to MPD spokesperson Ricardo Alvarado. There were 63 theft arrests in March, an increase of 250% over the same period in 2019. There were 20 arrests and 18 arrests in 2019 and 2018, respectively, for theft.

Typically, shoplifting incidents include electronics and higher ticket items. During the coronavirus quarantine, however, thefts increasingly include household items such as cleaning supplies, food and clothing, according to city officials. In an arrest report published on InMaricopa.com, a woman charged with shoplifting at Walmart had targeted items such as Kool-Aid packets, loungewear and water filters.

With the downturn of the economy and unemployment reaching levels reminiscent of the Great Depression nationwide, Alvarado believes this type of theft will continue to be a trend. The effects of COVID-19 are far and wide, and the full impact on crime in Maricopa may not be known for some time.


This story appears in the June issue of InMaricopa.

Tanner Rogers Maricopa
Tanner Rogers, 33, of Maricopa was charged with domestic assault after an incident Tuesday at his Rancho Mirage home, police said.

A Maricopa man is facing domestic violence charges after his arrest Tuesday.

Tanner Rogers, 33, was charged with domestic assault after a physical altercation occurred between Rogers and his wife when he was caught cheating, police said.

Officers responded to a home on West La Paz Street in Rancho Mirage after a 12-year-old child called to report hearing mom and dad fighting, and mom saying, “Get off of me,” according to police.

On scene, officers made contact with Rogers who was in the process of packing his belongings into a vehicle. Rogers told police that after his wife caught him having an affair by finding out he was sending nude photos, they had an argument. Rogers said he held his wife by her shoulders to prevent her from leaving so he could explain himself. He claimed she tripped during the exchange and he landed on top of her, police said.

Police reported observing red marks around his wife’s neck. She told police she had caught her husband sending nude photos to women on his phone earlier in the day and told him to be out of the house by the time she got home from work. When she arrived back home and Rogers had not left, she avoided conversation with him. He allegedly tackled her into the bathtub, police said.

Rogers allegedly wrapped his hands around the woman’s neck and began choking her before she escaped his grasp, according to the police report. Running to the living room with her phone in hand, Roger allegedly picked her up and threw her to the floor, causing rug burns on the woman’s elbows, according to police.

Rogers was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail, police said.

William Flammia (PCSO)

A local man is facing assault charges after his arrest Saturday morning.

William Flammia, 31, was charged with aggravated assault after an argument involving two women in his vehicle ended with injury, police said.

According to the report by Maricopa police, Flammia was in the driver’s seat of a 2017 Hyundai Tucson at the QuikTrip gas station on John Wayne Parkway, accompanied by a woman in the passenger seat and another in the back seat, identified as Yamen Gharibeh and Wedad Alostaz, respectively.

The two women began arguing when Alostaz was accused of stealing items from Gharibeh’s purse, police said. Upon review of surveillance footage from the QuikTrip, police could see Alostaz exit the Hyundai during the argument.

Flammia then backed up the vehicle while the door was still ajar, allegedly striking Alostaz and knocking her to the ground, police said. Alostaz had visible injuries to her left arm, shoulder and both feet, police said.

Flammia and Gharibeh allegedly fled the scene after the incident and abandoned the vehicle at the Denny’s restaurant, off West Smith-Enke Road, before taking an Uber to Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino, police said.

Flammia was detained by Ak-Chin Indian Community police at the casino and turned over to the Maricopa Police Department.

He was booked into Pinal County Jail.

“There were no issues to report,” said Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

The first night of the statewide curfew put in place by Governor Doug Ducey went smoothly, according to local law enforcement officials.

“There were no issues to report,” said Maricopa Police Department spokesman Ricardo Alvarado.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office similarly reported no incidents involving the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, which began Sunday night, saying normal calls for service proceeded without issue.

“We continue to monitor the situation and have been in communication with our partner agencies within our county,” PCSO spokeswoman Lauren Reimer said. “We are also working with the state to ensure we have current information and intelligence to best prepare for all possible scenarios.”

The curfew order, set to expire on June 8, came after protests and riots in cities across the country in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in police custody. One officer has been charged with murder and protesters want three others arrested and charged.

Alvarado said he believes the city will remain quiet, with nothing to indicate otherwise.

The curfew prohibits congregating or traveling on public streets and at public places, but there are exemptions, including for law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics or other medical

personnel, National Guard, as well as any other emergency response personnel authorized by the State of Arizona, and credentialed members of the media.

Also exempted are individuals traveling directly to and from work; attending religious services; commercial trucking and delivery services; obtaining food; caring for a family member, friend, or animal; patronizing or operating private businesses; seeking medical care or fleeing dangerous circumstances; and travel for any of the above services.

From left, Amanda, Sydnie Lovlin, Jessica Matelski, Franci Rohde, Sarah Woods Cuneo, Kelly Larson, Sylvia Shidemantle, Mandi Larca, Merle Gaskins, Ashlynn Tonkin, and Angela. Photos by Kyle Norby

Staff, family, and friends of the Maricopa Animal Hospital gathered Thursday for the official groundbreaking ceremony of a new facility next to Maricopa Self Storage on John Wayne Parkway.

The veterinary clinic has been serving the Maricopa community since Dr. Kelly Larson first opened its doors in 2007. Located off of North John Wayne Parkway and West Hathaway Avenue, the current clinic is 1,200 square feet with a cramped waiting room occupied by the service desk.

The new, 4,000 square-foot building will expand the waiting room as well as provide bigger exam rooms for veterinary technicians and more parking. The move, expected in the fall, is expected to be quick with the new building located across the street.

The new, 4,000 square-foot building will expand the waiting room as well as exam rooms.

“We started out very small, just a couple days a week and gradually we’ve grown in the community,” Larson said. “This is more for our clients than for us to be able to provide a nice, new building with some space. We are very excited.”

Once the building permit is acquired, construction will be done by local subcontractors with a finish date expected within six to seven months, according to Keith Nelson, president of TerWisscha Construction Inc. of Willmar, Minn.

“We’re one of the only companies that do design and construction (of veterinary hospitals) in the United States,” Nelson said. “One of the biggest things most doctors do in their life is getting to do a project such as this, so we’ve got to celebrate it!”

Longtime Animal Hospital clients Dennis and Linda Shurtz expressed their good wishes during the ceremony and shared stories from over the years with Larson and Sylvia Shidemantle, practice manager. The Shurtzes, who have brought their pets to the clinic for 10 years, said they have appreciated the great care and customer service.

“They need the room, so this has just been so exciting. People are talking about it,” Dennis said.

Shidemantle said none of this growth would be possible without the loyal clients that have come to the clinic over the years. She said she appreciated their patience with the limited space at the current location, which will converted into a pet boarding facility.

“It’s time for space!” she said. “Maricopa is just growing so much and we are so busy in the current building. It’s time to expand so we can offer more to our clients.”

Staff, family, and friends of the Maricopa Animal Hospital

 

Jason A. Bayt (PCSO)

A Maricopa man is facing DUI and drug charges after his arrest Tuesday morning.

Jason Bayt, 41, was charged with aggravated DUI, drug DUI, possession of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia after being found passed out in his vehicle in front of Circle K on Honeycutt Road, according to police.

Maricopa police responded to report from a Circle K employee about a man “slumped over” on the steering wheel of his vehicle in the gas station’s parking lot. When officers arrived, they observed the vehicle still running with Bayt’s foot on the brake pedal. According to the report, officers opened the car door and shook Bayt awake. Police said Bayt had bloodshot eyes and droopy eyelids and alleged he had items in his hand and lap, including “a torch” and tin foil papers with burnt residue, “typically a sign of methamphetamine drug use.” This led to the suspicion of impairment, police said.

When asked by police if he had any weapons in his possession, Bayt told police he had a gun on his right hip. Officers removed and secured the firearm and asked Bayt to exit his vehicle to conduct a field sobriety test. Bayt informed officers that his license was suspended due to a prior DUI conviction, according to police.

After conducting a field sobriety test, police determined Bayt was impaired. During a search of Bayt’s pockets, officers allegedly found a glass pipe and a metal straw with burnt residue, believed to be methamphetamine, police said.

While performing a probable cause search of Bayt’s vehicle, police allegedly found a black bag containing a smaller case of .7 grams of meth.

During the investigation, police said they determined that Bayt was under the influence of methamphetamine, according to the report.

Bayt was arrested and booked into Pinal County Jail. According to inmate records, he has since been released.

Our Lady of Grace Church Maricopa
The sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church. Holy Communion will be distributed Sunday in an outdoor tent and Masses in the church will resume – with limited capacity – on Pentecost Sunday. Photo by Victor Moreno

President Trump declared churches and other places of worship “essential” on Friday and called on them to open their doors, but at least one Maricopa congregation is taking a measured approach.

Trump stated he would override any governors who do not allow churches to reopen, but it was unclear if he had any real authority to do so.

While Arizona never moved to officially close churches, synagogues and mosques during the governor’s stay at home order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, most followed recommendations and guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many places of worship made their own decisions to close during the pandemic, some taking their services online.

Some city churches found themselves without a place to gather. When it decided to shutter schools, the Maricopa Unified School District canceled contracts with the 11 religious organizations in the city that were renting its facilities for Sunday services and other activities.

At least one Maricopa church was sticking to its plan, despite Trump’s urging.

The Rev. Jay Luczak, pastor at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, said the president’s declaration has not affected plans to move forward cautiously, and the parish will continue to practice CDC guidelines for adapted worship.

“Our plan has been approved already,” he said. “We have five pages of guidelines we are using to keep everyone safe. We are planning to have Communion outside this Sunday and resuming Mass on Pentecost Sunday (May 31st).”

Holy Communion will be distributed Sunday, the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord, under a tent from 9 to 9:15 a.m. or 11 to 11:15 a.m. for parishioners who have watched the live-streamed Mass, at home, on internet or TV.

Luczak said indoor Masses next weekend will be held from Friday to Monday as gatherings are limited to 80-100 people. The church will sanitize after every service. In addition to live-streaming Masses, the church has offered outdoor confessions.

CDC guidelines ask churches to consider:

  • Spacing out seating for attendees who are not in the same party to at least six feet apart when possible; consider limiting seating to alternate rows.
  • Encourage use of a cloth face covering at all gatherings and when in the building.
  • Adding additional services to the weekly schedule to enhance physical distancing and holding services and gatherings in a large, well-ventilated area or outdoors.
  • Whether gatherings may need to have limited attendance, be held virtually, or suspended if physical distancing is difficult. This includes worship services, funerals, weddings, religious education classes, youth events, support groups, and any other programming.
  • Continuing to live-stream worship services and providing drive-in services.

While excited to see worship in the church building about to start again, Luczak is still apprehensive that things will go back to how they were pre-pandemic.

“Hopefully we’ll get back to normal, but who knows,” he said.

 

A local man faces multiple charges after a traffic stop on the corner of Hogenes Boulevard and Holly Drive.

Demetrius Davis, 28, was charged with aggravated DUI on a suspended driver’s license, possession of marijuana, possession of paraphernalia, and misconduct with weapons, police said.

According to a police report, an officer stopped Davis around 11 p.m. after observing his vehicle swerving across lanes and exceeding speeds of 50 mph in residential areas.

When officers approached the vehicle to speak with him, Davis said he pleaded the 4th and 5th Amendments, police said. When asked if he had anything to drink, Davis allegedly refused to answer, according to the report. A strong odor of marijuana and alcohol emanated from the vehicle, said police, who noted Davis had bloodshot eyes and slurred speech.

Davis was arrested for failure to provide a driver’s license while police conducted a probable cause search in his vehicle. Officers located marijuana and drug paraphernalia along with opened and unopened beer containers, police said.

Once Maricopa Police Dispatch identified Davis, it was revealed he had a suspended Arizona driver’s license. Blood was drawn for DUI testing and Davis was booked into Pinal County Jail.