Juvenile suspect detained in Morenci shooting

By Jon Johnson


MORENCI – A beef between two teenagers turned deadly when one allegedly fired multiple shots into the other’s residence. 

According to an initial report from the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office, the incident reportedly took place in the late evening of Friday, Aug. 11, and bled into early Saturday morning, Aug. 12. Greenlee County Officers were initially dispatched at about 12:18 a.m. on Saturday regarding shots fired at a residence on Tamarisk Road in Morenci. 

However, a neighbor’s home surveillance camera clocked the shooting at about 11:08 p.m. on Friday night. The neighbor told police that she was on her way home when she got a notification on her phone about the shots. When she got home she said the children who live next door were outside and said someone had shot their house.

Multiple bullet strikes were found on the house, including one that went through the blinds and curtains and through a small child’s table into a chair. Another bullet made a hole through the screen door and the main door. Those two bullets and four casings were found and collected by the juvenile victims, with the casings coming from a rocky area along Coronado Drive. The bullets were 9MM and the casings were from a 9MM Luger. Deputies later located two more casings off Coronado Drive.

A juvenile male at the victims’ house said he was having issues with another juvenile male who drove a red Escalade with chrome rims. The juvenile wasn’t even at the residence at the time of the shooting and was called back after it occurred by his brother, according to his statements to the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office.   

A witness on a nearby street said he heard the gunshots and then saw a person running be picked up by a maroon Ford Escalade. He said he couldn’t make out the driver because of a hoodie the person was wearing, but said the Escalade had particularly noticeable chrome rims. Two other witnesses who wished to remain anonymous provided video of a red Escalade driving down Coronado Drive and Poppy Road around the time of the shooting. 

Authorities then went to the 16-year-old suspect’s house and located a red Escalade. The suspect initially denied having anything to do with the shooting. Deputies searched the Escalade but did not locate a firearm. 

On Sunday, Aug. 13, the Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office returned to the juvenile suspect’s house at about 7:06 p.m. to serve a search warrant and took the suspect into custody. The family has claimed police abuse of authority in the execution of the search warrant. Read their story here

According to a Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office report, the 16-year-old juvenile suspect allegedly denied being the shooter but admitted to being a get-away driver for a friend of his who he dropped off to do the shooting and then picked back up and fled the area in the Escalade. 

On Monday, Aug. 14, the juvenile suspect had a detention hearing in front of Greenlee County Superior Court Judge Jeremy O. Ford. Similar to a preliminary hearing for adult defendants, a detention hearing for juvenile defendants is held to determine if there is enough evidence to detain the defendant until further adjudication. Judge Ford determined there was probable cause to support the theory and the suspect was detained and transferred to a juvenile facility in Florence.