PHOENIX (AP) — Two suspects wanted in connection with the shooting of an Arizona state police officer were in custody Thursday after police tracked them to a west Phoenix home with the aid of tips from the community, surveillance and community involvement, authorities said.
Phoenix police Chief Daniel Garcia said 39-year-old Ramon L. Bueno and 26-year-old Danny Angel Vargas were arrested without incident late Wednesday for the Oct. 8 shooting of an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer during a traffic stop in Phoenix.
Garcia said at a press conference that Bueno is believed to be the one who shot 44-year-old officer James Casey in the face. Casey is now recovering at home but has a long road ahead before he can return to the job.
Bueno told reporters as he was led into jail Thursday morning that he hadn't done anything, and court documents show he also denied involvement when interviewed by police.
Three women in the car were previously arrested. Two were released without charges, and the second faces charges of hindering prosecution
The shooting happened after Casey stopped the car containing three women and two men in the early morning on a freeway frontage road. He had obtained identification from the women and had been joined by two other officers as he tried to identify the two men.
That's when Bueno allegedly opened fire, shooting Casey in the face. Garcia said the female driver later told police that Bueno put the pistol to her head and forced her to drive away. She had to double back after ending up in a parking lot, and Bueno opened fire on the officers again as they passed by.
Police returned fire, wounding one of the women and Vargas.
The suspects got away, but within a day, police had identified two of the women and begun a manhunt for Bueno and Vargas.
"Our basic strategy was constant police pressure on these suspects until we brought them into custody," Garcia said. "The fact is we knew they would make a mistake and once they made a mistake we knew we would arrest them."
Both are involved in gangs, guns and drugs, Garcia said.
Bueno was booked on charges including attempted murder of a police officer and kidnapping.
At the time of the traffic stop, there was a court order to detain Bueno for his involvement in a homicide, Garcia said. Officer Casey likely did not know that at the time, he said.
Other agencies, including the U.S. Marshal and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, joined Phoenix police and DPS officers in the search for the suspects.
"This was one crime we were not going to accept," said David Gonzales, U.S. Marshal for Arizona. "If someone would take a shot at a law enforcement officer, God forbid what would he do to other people."
Vargas was being treated at a hospital for his wounds Thursday, police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said.
Bueno denied to officers that he was involved, but court documents said numerous witnesses and the driver said he was the one who shot Casey.
He made an initial court appearance Thursday morning, but did not enter a plea. A judge ordered him held on $1 million bond and said he would be assigned a public defender before his next court appearance.