Crime & Public Safety

Friday, August 10, 2018

Laughing Stock: On Battles and Recoveries

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Comedians Andy Gold and Kurtis Matthews perform in The Addicts Comedy Tour at the JCC on Aug. 16 - ANDY GOLD
  • Andy Gold
  • Comedians Andy Gold and Kurtis Matthews perform in The Addicts Comedy Tour at the JCC on Aug. 16
It’s not funny at all, per se, and it’s almost certainly the world’s worst career choice, but years of addiction have made comedy stars of Kurtis Matthews and Andy Gold … now that they’re in recovery.

The pair perform as the Addicts Comedy Tour at 8 p.m., Thursday, August 16, at the Jewish Community Center, 3800 E River Rd. Tickets are $20 ($12 for groups of 10), at

Gold recently told The Phoenix Entertainer, “I started doing comedy maybe six months after I got clean, and my whole existence at that time was not using one day at a time.”

For addicts, and their relatives, co-dependents and friends who can relate to that, the JCC show offers a rare opportunity to laugh with recognition, insight and occasionally compassion for their addict’s struggles. For comedy fans and everyone else, it’s just plain funny.

Matthews has toured nationally and internationally since 1984 when a second DUI inspired him to give up alcohol and drug abuse. In 1999, he founded the San Francisco Comedy College, the most popular standup comedy school in the US.

Andy Gold is a favorite at treatment centers and in recovery groups, as well as in comedy festivals and competitions all over the U.S. He began his comedy career in Salt Lake City just six months after a nearly fatal overdose.

Epic Roast Battle

Rich Gary hosts a comedy battle among Tucson comics from 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, August 17, at Epic Café; free.

Reigning champion Roxy Merrari, host of Monday night Comedy at the Wench, defends her title against 15 contenders, tournament style. Judges are Mo Urban, Clint Lapsansky and Collin Chomiak.

Contestants include Steena Salido, John Hernandez, Drake Horner, Paul Fox, Kathie Hedrick, Autumn Horvat, Eli Turner, Dominic DiTolla, Joel Martin, Jesse Andrews, Darryl Graves, Phillip Showers, Sam Racioppo, Julian Moreno and Tony Kanani-Bruhn.

Comedy returns to the Screening Room

The Screening Room Presents Comedy Night at 9 p.m., Wednesday, August 15. Marcus Gallegos hosts and Matt Ziemak headlines. Rounding out the bill are Charles Ludwig, Eden Nault, Cindell Hanson, Andrew Scott and Randy Ford. Doors are at 8:30 and the show is free.

The comedy revival at The Screening Room follows a hiatus in programming as the theatre transferred to new owners. The theater’s previous incarnation supported at least two comedy shows weekly, including a Tuesday night standup open mike and a Friday night comedy variety show that mixed standup acts and teams from local improv companies.

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Arizona Still Grappling with Question of How to Prevent School Shootings

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 3:14 PM

March for our Lives protest in Tucson. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • March for our Lives protest in Tucson.

Gun legislation in Arizona remains a hot-button issue going into election season. Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed school safety plan, which was unveiled in March, was a contentious bill since Arizona lawmakers can’t agree whether “school safety” and “gun reform” are synonymous.

The bill was proposed as a proactive measure towards preventing any more school shootings like the February attack Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The bill passed in the Senate with full support from Republicans and none from Democrats. But ultimately, the legislation stalled in the House.

“Governor Ducey was disappointed that the Safe Arizona Schools Plan was not passed by the Legislature, but that doesn’t mean that our work is done on the issue,” said Ducey Press Secretary Elizabeth Berry in an email. “School safety is a top priority and the governor is committed to fighting for the common-sense reforms included in the [bill].”

Ducey says that passing his school safety bill is one of his highest priorities going into the next legislative session, should he win re-election. But with his plan facing criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, he will have a challenge seeing it become law if he’s reelected.

Democrats cite the lack of universal background checks as one of the bill’s biggest pitfalls. Ducey’s plan intends to strengthen the existing criminal background check system, allocating $600,000 to do so, but that doesn’t take into account that person-to-person sales aren’t regulated because only federally licensed firearm dealers are required to perform background checks at the point of sale. This is commonly referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

Congressional candidate, Arizona Sen. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa), who sponsored the Safe Arizona Schools Plan, says that while he’s confident that Ducey will be re-elected, the issue is still important enough that it will be addressed—and fast—if he’s not. Smith also thinks gun reform should be addressed at the state level not nationally.

“This is not a gun bill; this is a school safety bill,” Smith said. “We’re talking about keeping people safe as it relates to mass shootings. We aren’t going to get into bump stocks and all of those other areas. If you want to have a debate about that, then run a bill about it.”

The Arizona House of Representatives voted 34-25 in February against a bill to ban bump stocks, House Bill 2023. Ducey’s bill initially had several types of STOP orders—Severe Threat Orders of Protection—that would allow both members of the public and law enforcement to petition Arizona courts to advocate for the removal of firearms from individuals exhibiting severe and imminent signs of threatening behavior.

The bill states that after law enforcement presents a judge with evidence that an individual is dangerous, the judge can require that the person in question undergoes a 21-day observation and mental health examination to determine whether or not the person is a risk.

The bill saw multiple revisions throughout April and was significantly watered down before it got to the floor for a vote. That final version removed the aspect of the STOP order that allowed concerned citizens to petition for one, allowing only members of law enforcement to do so.
Smith says that most people don’t know how to petition a court anyway, so removing that part will allow law enforcement to properly handle concerns.

The STOP orders are one of the most contentious parts of the bill, as Democrats argue that they won’t do enough while Republicans argue that they are an overstep by the government.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett says Ducey’s plan focuses too heavily on seizing guns and that the state should instead arm willing teachers to keep schools safe, referring to the oft-used slogan: “The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Smith also argues that the addition of armed forces, whether it be through security resource officers or the arming of teachers, is necessary to keep Arizona schools safe.

“The majority of the people that talk to me want to see the schools be better protected, and inevitably that means that they want somebody on campus to be able to use force and have force available if needed,” he says.

Ducey’s plan would increase the amount of armed security resource officers on school campuses in Arizona. It also would allocate more funds for more trained mental health professionals on school campuses, with $3 million for behavioral and mental health specialists, according to Berry.

While Smith, Ducey and Bennett believe that it is necessary to arm more people to combat mass shooters, Democratic gubernatorial candidate David Garcia doesn’t believe placing more armed officers in schools would create the support system that is necessary to prevent school shootings.

“Those who firmly believe that a crisis would be resolved with a gun fight have been playing too many video games and watching too many movies,” Garcia said. “What we need is eyes, ears and communication . . . in the form of support, not enforcement.”

Garcia argues that in order for Democrats and Republicans to mend the division regarding topics of gun control, Arizona needs a governor who doesn’t receive praise from the NRA.
The NRA publicly supports Ducey’s school safety plan, which Smith praises.

Marissa Ryan is a University of Arizona journalism student and a Tucson Weekly intern.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Third Contaminated Well Near D-M Shut Down

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2018 at 12:30 PM

The sampled wells, marked in red, are the two that were shut down last year. - COURTESY CITY OF TUCSON
  • Courtesy City of Tucson
  • The sampled wells, marked in red, are the two that were shut down last year.

Tucson Water has shut down a third well near Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for safety reasons. Two others were closed last year due to elevated levels of chemicals, exceeding the Environmental Protections Agency’s health advisory recommendations.

Tucson Water Public Information Officer Fernando Molina said the third well, closed at the end of June, contains almost 30 parts per trillion of two per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFOA and PFOS, or PFAS for short. PFAS has no federal maximum contaminant level for drinking water, but the health advisory level is 70 parts per trillion.

PFAS can be found in household products like stain repellent, non-stick pans, water repellent fabrics, polishes, waxes, paints and cleaning products as well as fire-fighting foams. The EPA said there’s evidence that exposure to PFAS have adverse side effects, such as increased cholesterol levels, low infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer and thyroid distribution.

One well has PFAS levels of 2950 parts per trillion and was closed in June 2017. The other well has 97 parts per trillion and was closed in January 2017. These chemicals and another contaminate, a form of dioxane, were originally found at levels exceeding the EPA health advisory in two Tucson wells just north of D-M. Dioxane also has no federal maximum contaminant level for drinking water, but the EPA has a health advisory level of 0.3 parts per billion.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Mother of Teen Killed by Border Patrol Agent Allowed to Sue

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 4:00 PM

  • courtesy photo

An Arizona federal appeals court ruled today that the mother of the 16-year-old who was shot and killed by a border patrol agent has the right to file a lawsuit. The agent tried to have the case dismissed, but the court opinion says “the agent was not entitled to qualified immunity.”

“It is inconceivable that any reasonable officer could have thought that he or she could kill [Jose Antonio Elena Rodríguez] for no reason,” the court opinion says.

According to court documents:

Shortly before midnight on October 10, 2012, defendant Lonnie Swartz was on duty as a U.S. Border Patrol agent on the American side of our border with Mexico. J.A., a 16-year-old boy, was peacefully walking down the Calle Internacional, a street in Nogales, Mexico, that runs parallel to the border. Without warning or provocation, Swartz shot J.A. dead. Swartz fired somewhere between 14 and 30 bullets across the border at J.A., and he hit the boy, mostly in the back, with about 10 bullets. J.A. was not committing a crime. He did not throw rocks or engage in any violence or threatening behavior against anyone or anything. And he did not otherwise pose a threat to Swartz or anyone else. He was just walking down a street in Mexico.

The court finds that Jose had a Fourth Amendment right “to be free from the unreasonable use of deadly force by an American agent acting on American soil, even though the agent’s bullets hit him in Mexico.” They also found that his mother, Araceli Rodríguez, has a right to seek money damages.

“The court made clear that the Constitution does not stop at the border and that agents should not have constitutional immunity to fatally shoot Mexican teenagers on the other side of the border fence,” said Lee Gelernt in a statement, deputy director of the American Civil Liberty Union's Immigrants' Rights Project, who argued the federal appeals court case. “The ruling could not have come at a more important time, when this administration is seeking to further militarize the border.”

Earlier this year Swartz was acquitted of second degree murder charges in regards to Jose’s killing but is facing a retrial on a lesser manslaughter charge.

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Pro Publica: Mesa Immigrant Shelter Worker Charged with Molesting Eight Children

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The case is proceeding through Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix. - U.S. DISTRICT COURT
  • U.S. District Court
  • The case is proceeding through Sandra Day O'Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix.
Last Thursday, Pro Publica reporters Topher Sanders and Michael Grabell broke the news about Levian D. Pacheco, who was a youth care worker for Southwest Key's Casa Kokopelli shelter in Mesa, which houses immigrant children via contract with the federal government.

According to their article, Pacheco has been charged with 11 sex offenses after authorities accused him of sexually molesting at least eight unaccompanied immigrant boys who were housed in Casa Kokopelli over the past year. His trial is scheduled to begin on August 28.

The journalists wrote:
"Casa Kokopelli was cited by the Arizona Department of Health Services in 2017 for failing to complete background checks, including fingerprinting, to ensure that employees hadn't previously committed sex offenses and other crimes, records show."

The story includes graphic detail of the alleged sexual crimes committed by Pacheco, who is HIV-positive, towards the eight immigrant boys. There is also information about other reports of sexual abuse that has occurred inside immigrant shelters. You can read it online here.


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Friday, July 27, 2018

Kappa Sigma Fraternity Gets Kicked Off UA Campus

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2018 at 2:56 PM

  • Kappa Sigma UA Facebook
The University of Arizona will no longer recognize the Kappa Sigma Fraternity chapter after an investigation by the UA Dean of Students office deemed the fraternity's presence on the UA campus to be a health and safety risk to the student community.

The investigation found that the fraternity had violated the Arizona Board of Regents Code of Conduct on multiple occasions, citing that the Kappa Sigma Fraternity held several gatherings that provided alcohol while under sanctions from both the Kappa Sigma national office and the university.

According to a press release from the University of Arizona, the investigation also found that members of the chapter physically assaulted personnel hired to provide security and created a fund to hide activities from the university.

The revoked recognition status of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity is effective immediately. The chapter has until August 14 to appeal the university's decision. If denied, the Kappa Sigma national office won't be able to reinstate recognition on the University of Arizona campus until May of 2023 and no current members can be affiliated with the new chapter.

In addition to Kappa Sigma, there are currently six fraternities on loss of recognition status and one currently under judicial investigation according to an online database from the University of Arizona. 

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Fireworks 5X5 for the Fourth

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2018 at 5:00 PM

  • BigStock
It's that time of year again as grills get fired up, firework tents are popping up all over town, dogs are looking for good hiding spots, and Americans are getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July.

Here are five tips each with five tricks to make sure you have a fun, safe and legal Independence Day:

1. Make sure your fireworks are legal: Aerial fireworks such as sky rockets, roman candles and firecrackers are all illegal in Arizona outside of professional shows. But don't fear, according to Tucson Fire Department, you can still set off smaller fireworks from June 24 through July 6. Be careful with all firework use as if damage occurs to someone else's property, the firework launcher is responsible.

Legal fireworks include:
click image CITY OF TUCSON
  • City of Tucson

1. Sparklers, including Morning Glory and sparkler trees
2. Smoke Balls, Smoke Cones, Smoke Candles
3. Ground-based sparklers, including ball and disk, and cylindrical sparklers
4. Sparkling wheels
5. Ground Sparklers (up to 500g) including cylindrical, square, cone and California Rocket fountains.

2. Leave it to the pro's: There are many professional shows happening locally where you can sit back, relax and let someone else do the work:
1. "A" Mountain Fireworks - Downtown 9 p.m.
2. Star Spangled Spectacular - Marana 5 to 9 p.m.
3. Diamonds in the Sky Celebration - Kino Sports Complex 5 to 9:30 p.m.
4. Oro Valley July 4 Celebration - Naranja Park 5 to 9:30 p.m.
5. Red, White and Boom - Sahuarita Lake Park 6 to 10 p.m.

Check out our event calendar for a full list of local shows.

3. Stay safe while handling fireworks: Safety must be a priority when using fireworks as they can be a danger to yourself, others and the environment. Tucson Fire Department recommends you always use fireworks in a clear area away from your house or any plants. Fireworks are only allowed on private property, never in the street or on any city property. Be careful of all plants and dry brush as Smokey the bear says only you can prevent wildfires.
1. Know your fireworks: always read all of the packaging instructions
2. Never give fireworks to children
3. Alcohol and fireworks is not a good combo, don't drink and firework.
4. Never carry fireworks in your pocket (ouch!)
5. Wet finished fireworks before throwing away

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Reward Offered in Javelina Poaching Case

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2018 at 3:32 PM

  • Courtesy

The Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Operation Game Thief program is offering a reward of up to $1,500 for information leading to an arrest for the illegal killing of a javelina found June 17 northeast of 491 W. Hammerhead Way, accessible from South 12th Avenue.

Game and Fish determined that the javelina had been shot.

“Poachers are criminals,” said Regional Supervisor Raul Vega of Game and Fish in Tucson. “They are thieves who steal wildlife from Arizona citizens. This appears to be a crime of opportunity, or a case of trying to get rid of a nuisance. Either way, it’s illegal.”

Information may be provided to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700, 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week, anonymously if need be. Callers should reference OGT#18-002050.Information may also be provided on-line at

Citizens contacting Operation Game Thief in 2017 resulted in 76 citations for wildlife violations, with civil fines of $74,500.

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Staff Pick

Brew Haha Comedy Showcase Presents: Chris Thayer @ Borderlands Brewery

Brew Haha at Borderlands Brewery is Tucson's longest running independent comedy show. It features nationally tour headliners… More

@ Borderlands Brewing Company Mon., Aug. 20, 8-10 p.m. 119 E. Toole Ave.

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