Sunrise shooters sentenced to five years in prison

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Nathaniel Sanchez, left, and Tyree Coleman pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to three counts of aggravated assault in the  Sunrise Mobile Home & RV Park shooting Aug. 27 and were sentenced to five years in prison.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Nathaniel Thomas Sanchez, 18, and Tyree Coleman, 17, took plea agreements last month and were sentenced Nov. 7 to five years in prison for shooting two people during a party at the Sunrise Village Mobile Home & RV Park in the early morning hours of Aug. 27.

Contributed Photo/Courtesy ADOC: Nathaniel Sanchez is being held at ASPC-Red Rock.

Both men, through separate attorneys, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that had a stipulated five-year prison sentence as well as two other amended charges of aggravated assault, which were given concurrent five-year sentences on standard probation upon their release from prison. So, once they are released, they will be on standard probation for a period of five years.

Under the plea agreements, Sanchez and Coleman are both eligible for early release for one day for every seven served. That, coupled with their credit for time already served in the Graham County Adult Detention Facility, means that they are eligible for release Nov. 24, 2022.

Sanchez is currently serving his time in Arizona State Prison Complex – Red Rock, while Coleman is in a special minors section of Arizona State Prison Complex – Tucson. 

According to Safford Police reports, the incident at the park started due to an ongoing issue between Sanchez and a 17-year-old juvenile who was at a get together at a trailer in the park. Reportedly, Sanchez had previously become romantically involved with the juvenile’s former girlfriend, with whom he has a child. 

According to witness statements, the juvenile’s older brother – who would end up being shooting victim no. 2 – was invited to hang out at the residence and allowed his younger brother to tag along. Shooting victim no. 2 had recently been released from prison and is on intensive probation and was initially hesitant to speak with investigators or even be treated for his gunshot wound.

While at the party, the juvenile contacted Sanchez’s brother and invited him and his friends over to the house. Coincidentally, Sanchez was dating shooting victim no. 1’s cousin. Sanchez’s girlfriend at the time then drove him to the party, along with his brother and another male.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Investigators photograph evidence at the scene of the Sunrise Mobile Home & RV Park shooting Aug. 27.

The juvenile and Sanchez reportedly got into a disagreement, however, and the juvenile allegedly struck Sanchez. According to Sanchez, the juvenile also reported he was “going to get his strap” and that he feared being shot.

After running away down the street from the fight, Sanchez was picked up by the people he went to the party with (who had retreated to their car and locked the doors) and he instructed his girlfriend to go to Coleman’s house because Coleman had guns. Sanchez was reportedly upset that the juvenile had made him look bad in front of his girlfriend and wanted to scare him to get him back. 

Coleman allegedly supplied Sanchez with a handgun, armed himself with one as well and joined the group as they made their way back to the party.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Police cordoned off this residential street with crime scene tape after the shooting.

Once there, Sanchez and Coleman stepped out of the vehicle and began threatening the crowd with their guns by shooting them into the air. However, shooting victim no. 1 approached them and began to tussle with Coleman, who struck the victim with the handgun. At that time, Sanchez allegedly fired near the ground where the two were wrestling and possibly struck his girlfriend’s cousin in his leg. The juvenile’s older brother (shooting victim no. 2) also came at the two teens and was shot in his leg/buttock area – possibly by Coleman. Shooting victim no. 2 also had a hole in his cheek that was possibly caused by a second round.

After the shooting, the group went back to Coleman’s house and Coleman gathered the guns. He later told investigators that he went up on Mount Graham and disposed them over an area known as “The Wall.” Investigators attempted to locate the weapons the following day in the daylight by hiking the area and through the use of an aerial drone, but the guns were not located.

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: An investigator picks up an evidence marker at the scene.

During interrogation, both Sanchez and Coleman allegedly admitted to firing their weapons but both denied knowing if they actually hit anyone. Numerous spent .40 caliber casings and live rounds were located at the shooting location, as well as at least one slug that was found. The skirting of a mobile home across the street was also found to have a bullet hole in it.

On Nov. 7, Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson found each defendant had willingly admitted to their guilt and found that the incident was worthy of the aggravated term of five years in prison. Normally, the Class-3 Felony has a mitigated minimum sentence structure of two years; a presumptive sentence of 3.5 years; a maximum sentence of seven years; and an aggravated maximum sentence of 8.75 years in prison.

If the defendants fail on probation, they face being sentenced back to prison to any of the ranges from two years to 8.75 years.