For a week and a half, crime was a big story in 2021

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Crime Scene
Police outside the Rancho Mirage home as they perform an investigation on the double homicide. [Ian Roberds]

It was one heck of a week (and a half)

A stretch of 11 days in August gave Maricopa a glimpse of big city crime, violence and mayhem. It’s a week most residents would prefer to forget. By the end, three people were dead, but it could have been much worse.

Double murder in Rancho Mirage
The violence ramped up on Aug. 18 with a double-murder in Rancho Mirage. MPD responded to a reported shooting at a home in the 37000 block of West Prado Street, where they found two deceased adults. According to police, witnesses identified Juan Jose Cazares Jr., 38, who apparently lived at the home, as the primary suspect. He allegedly fled in a gray 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck before being arrested without incident by Tucson police later that day.

Shots fired at new apartment complex
It all started with someone firing at least 16 rounds into the C Building at the new Oasis at The Wells apartments on West Shea Way in the early morning hours of Aug. 9.
Police said no injuries were reported and described the incident as “isolated but not random.” There have been no arrests in the case.

Credit union inside Fry’s robbed
What had already been quite a week got even crazier the next day, when the Desert Financial Credit Union branch inside Fry’s Marketplace was robbed.

The alleged thief in the Aug. 14 incident, who was dubbed the “Back Again Bandit” by the FBI, was arrested without incident Oct. 25 in Phoenix. The FBI Violent Crime Task Force said Richard Zumbro was a suspect in 23 bank robberies.

According to authorities, Zumbro allegedly walked away from the Desert Financial robbery with $5,000 in cash after handing the teller a note reading: “THIS IS A ROBBERY! PLEASE DON’T MAKE IT A MURDER! QUICKLY AND QUIETLY GIVE ME ALL THE MONEY. HURRY!!”

Fatal pedestrian accident
Just two days later, a man was struck by a vehicle and killed as he walked along Smith-Enke Road, just east of Province Parkway.
Maricopa police were dispatched around 4 a.m. on Aug. 20 to the scene, where officers attempted lifesaving efforts on the victim, who was identified as Jordan Guardo-Mickell, 23, of Maricopa. He died at the scene.

MPD said Guardo-Mickell was walking in the roadway on Smith-Enke Road between Province Parkway and Desert Garden Drive when he was hit by a vehicle traveling east on Smith-Enke.

“The (driver) was coming home from work this morning,” a police spokesman said. “The subject was walking in the roadway, wearing dark clothing. There was no sign of impairment on the part of the driver.”

active Shooter Rancho El Dorado
Maricopa Police are assisting with the dismissal of students from Pima Butte Elementary School, which has been on lockdown all day due to an active shooter. [Ian Roberds]
Standoff in Rancho El Dorado ends peacefully
Four days later, a report of an active shooter in Rancho El Dorado forced the lockdown of Pima Butte Elementary School. Police arrested James Brent Gallup, 59, who was found on the roof of a home in the 41000 block of Sunland Drive, about a quarter-mile east of the school. The Aug. 13 standoff began about 7:20 a.m. led Maricopa police to evacuate the neighborhood. The standoff lasted until about 3 p.m. when the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office Regional SWAT team entered the home and found Gallup on the roof. They brought him down and he complied with officers, who arrested him. Gallup was charged with multiple offenses and booked at the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Gallup, was held on $65,000 cash bond, and faced charges of disorderly conduct with a weapon, threats, criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct/fighting, criminal damage, discharging a firearm within the city limits, and being in prohibited possession of weapons.

This year in review was first published in the January edition of InMaricopa magazine.