Clifton homicide suspect charged with murder in the first degree

Held on $1 million bond

By Jon Johnson

CLIFTON – The man suspected of opening fire on a vehicle driven by a mine employee on his way to work early Monday morning has been charged with premeditated murder in the first degree. 

The suspect, Eduardo Montano Jr., 36, of Tucson, was arrested early Tuesday morning in Tucson after being in custody since late Monday after a warrant was issued for his arrest as first reported in the Gila Herald. He has since been brought back to Greenlee County and has been assigned Daisy Flores as his court-appointed attorney. He is being held on a $1 million bond.  

Montano is suspected of fatally shooting Matthew Gerald Misener, 35, of Safford, as he was on his way to work at the Morenci mine early Monday morning. Misener was driving a black, Chevrolet Tahoe on U.S. Highway 191 and was shot as he began to enter the “Horseshoe Curve” between Clifton and Morenci. The incident took place just before 5 a.m., and the Clifton Fire Chief called it in after noticing the bullet-ridden vehicle. Other citizen responders in the area also stopped to help and then noticed the vehicle had been shot. 

According to a press release from the Clifton Police Department, leads and tips from witnesses and others who knew the victim led police to a vehicle belonging to Montano being in the area during the time of the shooting. Investigators then executed a search warrant with the ai of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, which resulted in an arrest warrant for Montano. The suspect, who was already in custody was then arrested. 

With the designation of pre-meditated murder in the first degree, authorities and prosecutors believe the shooting was planned and not a simple act of road rage. 

Contributed Photo: Matt Misener, 35, of Safford, was killed in a traffic shooting incident early Monday morning in Clifton.

Some have speculated that the shooting may have something to do with a custody battle Misener was having with his ex-wife. 

Misener was scheduled to go to a hearing Tuesday regarding an attempt to establish full custody of his three children he shared with his ex-wife and investigators are looking into if that issue had anything to do with the homicide. A GoFundMe account has been started to help the family with funeral expenses. Click here to view the account or donate.  

“We’re trying to establish the motive and that’s why we are looking at other leads,” Negrete said. “Investigators are headed back down to Tucson to continue the investigation, so this is still ongoing. Although we do have him under arrest, we still have to do the forensics part of it  and still follow up every lead that we have.”