Home-invasion spree led to killingStory 2, also from here in Tucson:
Five robbers who broke into a house and killed a man while his wife and children were home early Monday are believed to have invaded four other South Side residences and attempted to break into another in a spree that began Sunday night, police said.
Three of the five suspects had been arrested by Tuesday morning and Tucson police continued to look for the remaining two men.
The crime spree is said to have began Sunday at 9:15 p.m. in Pima County when several men entered a home in the 10000 block of South Oak Canyon Lane, near South Country Club Road and East Summit Street, while the family was home, said Lt. Michael O'Connor of the Pima County Sheriff's Department violent-crimes section. The robbers confronted the residents, demanding money, drugs and valuables. When they left, the men stole two vehicles, abandoning one a short time later and fleeing in the other, which is described as a light-colored Lexus.
Nearly five hours later at 2:02 a.m., robbers forced their way into another residence, in the 800 block of West Milton Street, near South 12th Avenue and West Drexel Road, and demanded money, but left the home without taking anything, said Sgt. Decio Hopffer, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.
Around 3:15 a.m., robbers made their way to the 7300 block of South Via Hermosa, near South Cardinal Avenue and West Los Reales Road, where they forced their way into a residence, O'Connor said. They confronted the homeowners, pistol-whipped a man and fired a shot but did not hit anyone. It was unknown what was stolen at that home, but the men fled the scene.
The next home to be hit by the robbers was in the 2600 block of West Vereda Las Muchas, near West Valencia and South Mission roads, around 3:30 a.m., O'Connor said. Several men pounded on the door, trying to force their way in, but when neighbors were awakened and came out to check on the noise, they got into a vehicle and left.
After that unsuccessful attempt, the robbers arrived at a home in the 1800 block of West Arroyo Vista Drive at 3:45 a.m. where they once again forced their way in and demanded money, but did not get any and left the scene, Hopffer said.
Then the group made its way to the home of 35-year-old Martin Guillermo Rodriguez in the 6300 block of South Beardslee Drive, near Valencia and Mission.
They forced their way into the two story home at the end of the cul-de-sac where Rodriguez's wife, children and relatives were staying, Hopffer said.
They demanded money and gunfire broke out, he said. Rodriguez was hit and the men left in a white sedan.
At 4:44 a.m., Rodriguez's wife called 911 to report that her husband had been shot, Hopffer said. Police arrived two minutes later, but Rodriguez was pronounced dead in his home shortly thereafter.
The motive remained unknown Tuesday, but police did say that it did not appear to be drug-related.
"These suspects were out there on a crime spree, hitting homes, hitting people," Hopffer said. "They did not hesitate to use violence and kill a person. The community is safer as a result of having taken these violent individuals off the streets."
Thomas Michael Hernandez and Adrian Valenzuela, both 19, and 18-year-old Andy Chavarria Gonzales were booked into the Pima County jail on more than a dozen charges each, including first-degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, discharging a firearm at a structure, armed robbery and burglary.
Hernandez was arrested early Tuesday while Gonzales and Valenzuela were arrested Monday. They were each being held on $2 million bond.
Hernandez was recently released from prison in March after serving only 10 months of a 2 1/2-year sentence for an aggravated assault charge, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections Web site.
He was to be on supervised release until July 16, the Web site shows.
Gonzales and Valenzuela were indicted by a grand jury on weapons-misconduct charges that stemmed from an incident in April, according to online court records.
Valenzuela has had several other run-ins with the law, including being indicted on a drive-by-shooting charge in an October 2004 incident and a charge of weapons misconduct in November 2005, according to online court records. He is currently facing drug charges as well.
Police are still seeking two men, who are described as being 18 to 20 years old with shaved heads.
Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or 88-CRIME, the anonymous tip line of the Pima County Attorney's Office.
Homeowner exchanges gunfire with would-be burglarsBut Dr. Arthur Kellermann wants you to believe that having a gun in your house for self-protection is more dangerous to you and your family than being disarmed.
Imagine waking-up in the middle of the night to the sound of someone trying to break into your home.
A Southwest side homeowner says that happened to him early this morning on South Sparrow Avenue, near West Los Reales Road and Camino de Oeste just east of the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation.
"There's been so many home invasions," says Alex Morales, "Like what happened down the street. You get scared for your life."
So, Alex Morales, who lives with his wife, two children, and two grand kids says he didn't think twice about grabbing his gun when burglary suspects tried to enter his home.
"It's not that you're trying to protect what you have; you're scared for your life, and you're scared for your family's life that they might do something to them," says Morales, who woke up to see a man trying to pry his back door open with a crow bar.
He then grabbed his gun, and rushed over to the door.
"I told him, 'Either get out of here, or I'm going to blow your head off!' "
Then Morales said it appeared the intruders tried to run away, so he headed towards the front of the house.
With gun in hand, Morales rushed down this hallway and straight towards the front door.
He went on the door step and then he heard gun shots and says he was forced to exchange fire with the car that was fleeing.
Morales said, "I walked out and they had seen me and they stopped and they shot twice at me, so I got my gun and shot about three or four times at them again."
Morales doesn't believe he hit the suspects and, so far, nobody has been arrested.
Whatever the case, Morales says that because he has a family to look out for and protect, if someone tries to rob his house again, "I'm not going to hesitate. If they want to come back, and try to do it again, they are more than welcome. I'll beef up security and get a few bullets for them. There's a bullet for everybody that wants to come to my house."
If a gun ban was actually passed, who would be disarmed? The home invaders or people like Alex Morales?