Entries in Phoenix (18)


Sheriff Arpaio Wants Armed Volunteers at Schools 

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio wants to put armed volunteers outside schools in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting.

Arpaio said in an interview with ABC/Univision on Friday that putting armed guards around schools would deter would-be shooters from committing violent acts. He plans to place his 3,000-person strong "volunteer posse" around Phoenix-area schools for added protection.

"I think it's the appropriate time to utilize this free resource to try to prevent any more massacres," Arpaio said.

The sheriff said he has the authority to direct his volunteers to guard the schools. The "posse" includes everyone from former law enforcement officials to lawyers, Arpaio said. The sheriff's office trains them on how to use weapons properly, he said.

The remarks come shortly after National Rifle Association Executive Director Wayne LaPierre called for armed police officers in every school in the country.

"It doesn't matter whether they like it or don't like it," Arpaio said, regarding whether schools want armed guards. "I'm still going to do it. I can't imagine criticism coming when they're given free protection."

It's not the first time the sheriff has suggested using armed volunteers to combat violence. His posse patrolled malls following incidents in the mid-1990s, and the group has also "gone after illegal immigration and drug trafficking," he said. The posse is comprised of volunteers who donate their time free of charge.

Arpaio is well-known within the Latino community for being a staunch supporter of Arizona's immigration laws, including the "show me your papers" provision that allows officers to check the immigration status of suspects they think might be in the country without permission.

"I'm always going to get critics," Arpaio said. "They'll probably say I've got the posse out there to arrest kids who are in this country illegally. That's not the case. That's not true. They're there to protect all kids."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom Sought After Pulling Child from Hospital Cancer Treatment

Phoenix Police Department(PHOENIX) -- Police in Phoenix are searching for an 11-year-old girl who was removed from the hospital by her mother, where she was being treated for leukemia.

Police said the little girl, who has only been identified as Emily, also had her arm amputated due to an infection.  The authorities are not sure why the mother removed the child from Phoenix Children’s Hospital Wednesday night, but are worried about the catheter still in Emily’s chest.

“Our concern right now is for that catheter to be medically removed.  We understand that there is the possibility that the catheter could get an infection and thereby result in the death of this child really in the matter of days,” Sgt. Steve Martos told ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV Thursday night.

Surveillance footage from the hospital shows the mother, identified as Norma in a police press release, leaving with Emily around 10:30 p.m. local time Wednesday.  Police say Norma removed Emily’s IV before walking her out of the hospital in street clothes.

A young boy was also seen leaving with Norma and Emily.

Police believe the family then left the hospital in a black van and have not been seen since.  Detectives have made an effort to contact the family but to no avail, according to the statement.

It’s not clear how long Emily had been a patient at the hospital.  Police have not released the family’s last name.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Car Crashes onto Active Runway at Phoenix Airport

Comstock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) –It was one car that created havoc at an Arizona airport when it crashed through a gate and onto an active runway Thursday night.

A woman driving with a small child in her 1997 Saturn rammed a north/east gate at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, gaining access to the active runway. Neither were injured, although the woman appeared to be showing signs of impairment.

Despite the driver’s actions, no flights were put in danger, but airport operations were suspended for a short period of time to ensure the safety of everyone on the runway.

The investigation into the incident is still ongoing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Phoenix Filmmaker Arrested After Allegedly Staging Terrorist Hoax

ABC News(PHOENIX) -- A Phoenix filmmaker has been arrested for allegedly videotaping his nephew dressed in a sheet while pointing a fake grenade launcher at passing cars in an apparent terrorist hoax to test police-response time after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre, authorities said on Wednesday.

Police arrested Michael Turley, 39, on Monday after a nearly two-month investigation.  The filmmaker faces charges of knowingly giving a false impression of a terrorist act, endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of his 16-year-old nephew.

Police said they responded one minute after they first received calls, but the video, which Turley allegedly filmed on July 28 and then posted on YouTube, apparently shows the fake terrorist roaming around a busy intersection for 15 minutes.

"They told us they were just making a movie," Phoenix Police Department spokesman James Holmes said, adding that there was no arrest that day.

"We deemed it a pretty dumb action but we didn't know what their real intent was, so we initiated an investigation," Holmes said.

Turley apparently posted the video on YouTube two days after filming.  He called it "Dark Knight Shooting Response, Rocket Launcher Police Test."

"The Anonymous Filmmaker explores how the Phoenix Police Department reacts days after the event at the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado where a gunman, James Holmes, killed 12 people and injured 58 more at the premiere of Batman The Dark Knight Rises," the video description said.

Police spokesman Holmes said authorities became aware of the video a few weeks after they were called to the scene.

"We reviewed it and at that point we realized they were intentionally endangering the public to prove a point," Holmes said.

Authorities arrested him on Monday after a search of his home.  ABC News has been unable to reach Turley or his attorney.

Police said Turley's nephew faces pending charges.  They have not released his name.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Police Seek Phoenix-Area Flashlight Bomber

Dick Luria/Photodisc/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Three discarded flashlights-turned-bombs have exploded in the past month in the Phoenix area, injuring five people and prompting police to warn the public about the potential danger of discarded flashlights.

Authorities said they fear that whoever is making the devices will eventually increase the power of the improvised bombs, and someone might die.

Janelle McKee was at a Glendale, Ariz., strip mall on May 13 when she noticed a yellow flashlight sitting by a palm tree.  She picked it up, and when she turned it on, it exploded.

“It sounded like a shotgun, big loud boom,” McKee said, adding, “I definitely won’t be picking anything up off the ground anytime soon.”

A day later, a landscaper found a flashlight in a ditch and he, too, turned it on.  The device injured two people when it exploded.

There was another explosion on May 24 at a Salvation Army distribution center near downtown Phoenix.  Two people were injured.

“We often get very strange things that are donated, but we never get things that are donated with the purpose to do harm,” the Salvation Army’s Capt. John Desplancke said.

Authorities believe the alleged bomber has spent time thinking about the devices because the bombs have been placed in an object that people would instinctively turn on.

Authorities say the devices have fairly sophisticated circuitry.  The device is triggered when the flashlight is turned on, and the battery emits an electrical charge that ignites an explosive.

“Are we concerned that since there has been more than one?  Absolutely, we’re concerned,” Tom Atteberry, special agent in charge at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in Phoenix, said.

“We do not want an innocent child or victim to pick one of these flashlights up and get injured or killed, so we take this very seriously,” he added.

Authorities have put up 22 billboards in the Phoenix area to warn residents that yellow flashlights could be dangerous and should not be touched.

Police believe the same person is responsible for all three attacks because the three flashlights that exploded had the same design and the chemical explosives.

The recovered flashlight bombs have been sent to a lab for testing.

The ATF is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the flashlight bombs.  Anyone with information is asked to call 1-888-ATF-BOMB (1-888-283-2662).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mother Drives With 5-Week-Old on Top of Car

ABC News(PHOENIX, Ariz.) -- A Phoenix, Ariz., woman put her 5-week-old baby on top of her car in his car seat and drove away, apparently forgetting he was there, not even noticing when the seat fell off the car and landed in an intersection, police said.

Neighbors discovered the baby on the roadway, still strapped to his safety seat, which was lying on its side. Luckily, the baby was unhurt.

The baby’s mother, 19-year-old Catalina Clouser, who allegedly had been smoking marijuana, was arrested and charged with aggravated driving under the influence and child abuse, police said.

“We believe that whatever she was under the influence of was the deciding factor in what did happen to this child and we’re extremely happy that for the baby this turned out well and the baby is going to be OK,” Officer James Holmes of the Phoenix Police Depart said.

Clauser, her boyfriend and their friends had been smoking marijuana earlier in the evening at a nearby park, but the boyfriend was arrested on suspicion of aggravated DUI when they went to a store — with the baby in the car — to get beer, according to police.

Upset that her boyfriend was arrested, police said, Clauser went to a friend’s home and smoked more marijuana.

Clauser left around midnight and apparently put the sleeping baby on the roof of the car and drove off, forgetting he was there, and continued driving after the baby fell off the car, Holmes said.

Leilani Gerlach, a homeowner who lives across from the intersection, notified police after she and another neighbor saw the baby in the car seat on the street.

“We were both rolling our eyes in astonishment that someone could forget their baby,” Gerlach said. “The car seat was turned to the side so anyone passing by wouldn’t be able to tell there was an actual baby inside. Thank god they stopped.”

After police arrived, two people walked up and told them the baby was Clausen’s. As the officers talked to the two, who identified themselves as friends of Clausen and her boyfriend, the young mother drove up, police said.

“[She] had gotten into her car, set the baby seat on top of the car and forgot that the child was up there. It does not appear that immediately she realized what happened,” Holmes said. “I think that perhaps she got where she was going and realized that she did not have the baby in the car.”

“There was damage to the car seat, it was scraped but there was no damage to the child,” Holmes said.

The baby is now in custody of Child Protective Services.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Arrest Made in Murder of Flight Attendant

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- Police used hotel security cameras to identify and arrest a suspect in the murder of an American flight attendant who was found naked, bound with a belt and strangled in a Mexico City hotel room, his mother said.

Nicholas Aaronson, 27, of Phoenix, Ariz., was found dead in a hotel room early Saturday morning. His luggage was strewn about the room, and there was no sign of forced entry, according to a notice posted by Aaronson's union.

Aaronson's mother, Anita Aaronson, said she was alerted to an arrest on Sunday.

"The FBI called [other son] Jason at 2:30 a.m, and told him they have arrested Nick's killer," she wrote Monday on her Facebook page.

The mother told a Phoenix news station that police had used surveillance video from the hotel to find and arrest the suspect.

The US Airways flight attendant was known as a popular, well-liked worker and a gay rights activist.

Anita Aaronson wrote on her Facebook page that Jason Aaronson was greeted by many of his brother's co-workers as he went through Phoenix airport en route to Mexico City to bring the body back to the U.S.

"Jason was in Phoenix airport tonight to get the plane to fly to Mexico and he said flight attendants were lining up to give him condolences for Nick," she wrote. "He had an escort of 4 people taking him through the airport and the flight attendants were coming from everywhere to hug him, what wonderful friends my boy had."

Deborah Volpe, president of Association of Flight Attendants Council 66, remembered Aaronson fondly.

"This is so difficult. We all worked with him, we all knew him. He was just in my office a week ago," Volpe said. "And it's that smile, we all knew his smile. He was a very compassionate individual."

Aaronson's coworkers organized a Nov. 10 memorial at the airport chapel in Phoenix.

Aaronson also worked with gay rights advocacy groups in Phoenix, where he participated in the NOH8 campaign by posing for a campaign photo.

Aaronson graduated Rio Salado College in Tempe, and began working for U.S. Airways in 2006.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Missing Arizona Girl's Family Demands Attention

Glendale Police Department(PHOENIX) -- The family of missing Phoenix 5-year-old Jahessye Shockley marched to Arizona's State Capitol building on Monday in an attempt to get state officials involved in the search for the little girl who has been missing since Oct. 11.

Family members have criticized the police investigation and are angry that the case has not garnered national media attention, especially compared to the case of missing 11-month-old Lisa Irwin in Kansas City, Mo.

Shockley's family members have also said that the lack of attention to her disappearance is an issue of race.  Authorities vehemently deny that race has played any part in the investigation.

"Certainly from the police department perspective, nothing could be further from the truth," Sgt. Brent Coombs, public information officer for the Glendale Police Department, told ABC News.  "This is all about a beautiful little girl missing, no matter what color or nationality.  It doesn't make a bit of difference to us.  We'd be working the same way."

Shockley was last seen by her three older siblings -- ages 6, 9 and 12 -- at their apartment nearly two weeks ago while their mother, Jerice Hunter, said she was out running an errand.  She said she left her three older children doing chores in the backyard and locked Shockley inside so she would be safe.

"I locked the door when I left," Hunter said in an interview with Peas in Their Pods, a non-profit that helps people find missing loved ones.  "When I got back the door was unlocked when I put my key in the door."

Shockley was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, with her hair up in long ponytail.  She is African-American, stands at approximately 3 feet 5 inches tall, weighs 55 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes

Meanwhile, Hunter's criminal history of allegedly abusing her children has drawn public suspicion to what role, if any, she might have played in her daughter's disappearance.  Court documents from 2006 reveal that Hunter was "accused of torturing her 7-year-old daughter and of causing corporal injuries to three of her other children" in California.

Police said Hunter's ex-husband George Shockley also participated in the alleged abuse.  He is currently in prison after being convicted as a sex offender.

Hunter was sentenced to eight years in a California prison in 2006 and lost an appeal.  Prosecutors dropped the torture charges in exchange for a plea of no contest, according to ABC's Phoenix affiliate KNXV-TV.  However, it is unclear why Hunter was released early from prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Missing Colorado Boys Found in Phoenix

Christopher Ihinger, left, and Danny Eberly disappeared in western Colorado. (San Miguel County Sheriff's Office)(PHOENIX) -- Two boys missing in western Colorado since Sunday have been found safe in Phoenix, according to authorities there.

The boys, 12-year-old Christopher Ihinger and 14-year-old Danny Eberly, both of Telluride, disappeared while on an outing with Christopher's dad, Aaron, and his hiking partner, according to the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office.

The boys are now in custody, unharmed, according to the Phoenix Police Department.

"The boys admitted to running away, to taking the truck and driving it to Phoenix," read a statement issued by the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office. "They were apprehended by the Phoenix Police Department after being suspected of committing some crimes."

Authorities in western Colorado spent three days combing broad swaths of wilderness near Telluride in search of the two boys.

Aaron Ihinger told police he last saw them Sunday morning, when he left the boys near a boat ramp in the Big Gypsum Valley of San Miguel County to go rock climbing. When he returned a few hours later, both of the boys were gone.

"It is unknown at this time the events that occurred that got them [to Phoenix], but the boys are in the custody of the Phoenix Police Department," the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office statement states. "Sheriff's investigators had learned that it was highly probable that the boys had planned to run away."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Phoenix Goddess Temple Raided as Alleged Brothel

Backpage dot com(PHOENIX) -- Arizona prosecutors have charged more than 30 people affiliated with the Phoenix Goddess Temple, a 10,000-square-foot alleged brothel that had been operating under the pretense of providing "religious" services for hundreds of dollars in cash "donations," police said.

On Sept. 7, 2011 police raided the Phoenix Goddess Temple, an alleged brothel, arresting 18 people.

"They were committing crimes under the guise of religious freedom," Phoenix police spokesman Steve Martos said. "It's a sad situation when people are trying to hide behind religion and church to commit a crime."

The "temple" had been operating in Phoenix since 2009, but authorities didn't become aware of it until residents began complaining. After a local newspaper visited the alleged brothel and published an in-depth story, police launched a six-month investigation culminating in the arrest of 18 people Wednesday. They are still hunting down the other 19.

It was the largest Arizona prostitution bust since authorities broke up the tri-state "Desert Divas" ring in 2008.

Four of those indicted are men, but none of them are johns. Charges include prostitution, pandering and conspiracy.

During the investigation, police discovered the Goddess Temple was operating another alleged house of prostitution in Sedona, Ariz., which was also raided Wednesday.

Goddess Temple founder Tracy Elise, known within her business as "Mystic Mother," was one of the 18 arrested Wednesday. She had also been involved with a similar alleged brothel in Seattle, Wash., that had been shut down in 2009.

The Phoenix Goddess Temple still has several advertisements on the adult entertainment section of classified ads website An ad for Iyata dated Sept. 5 showed a woman in what appears to be a belly-dancing outfit. "I will ignite you with my touch, breath, and Love. We will Cultivate your ecstasy to it's highest potential," the ad says.

The Phoenix Goddess Temple did not immediately respond to an interview request from ABC News.

Organization leaders had said in prior media interviews that they are not prostitutes, but religious healers focusing on "Root Chakra."

"There's no science and provability about this [healing system]," Elise told the Phoenix New Times in February. "But it works."

The county attorney, however, isn't buying it.

"We're not viewing this in any way as somehow protected by the first amendment," Montgomery said. "This is not religious expression. This is a criminal activity and those responsible thought they were being too clever by half by coming up with different terms."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio