Risky Business

Two teens are murdered, as violence escalates at West Valley house parties. Some blame party-crew rivalry

Many of the kids are too young to drive, much less be out late at night in a strange neighborhood, unsupervised. But none seem troubled by the sudden change of fortune from party animal to detainee.

"This is the most fun I've had all day," a shivering young girl says to no one in particular.

"How old are you?" an officer asks her.

Rashelle Carpenter
courtesy of Rashelle23.com
Rashelle Carpenter
Jose's cousin at the site of his killing near a party house on West Earll Drive.
Paul Rubin
Jose's cousin at the site of his killing near a party house on West Earll Drive.

"Eighteen," she says.

The cop gives her a look that says, try that one again.

"I mean, 16?" the girl says.

"What are your mom and dad gonna say about this?"

"I'm at the movies right now, then I'm going to my girlfriend's, okay?"

The cop shakes his head, and moves down the curb to the next teen.

A boy in a red sweatshirt implores another officer not to assume he's currently a bad guy.

"I used to be a criminal," he says, jovially.

Someone starts the chant, "Taser, Taser, Taser, Taser," referring to the controversial stun guns that the seven Glendale officers on hand are carrying on their belts.

"You don't want to be thinking about that," one of the officers says, trying to keep the mood light.

But things sour when a girl unexpectedly jumps up from the curb and jabs an index finger at an officer.

"I didn't do nothing wrong," she says, loud enough for all to hear. "I didn't even get into the fucking party. Let me the fuck out of here."

"Oh, so you want me to be a jerk?" the officer responds, leading the girl by both arms to a squad car across the street. There, he handcuffs her briefly and lectures her about her use of language before escorting her back to the curb.

Another cop instructs a 13-year-old girl to call her mother on her cell phone. When the woman answers, the officer takes the phone and tells her to come to the scene to get her daughter. The mother apparently isn't thrilled by the idea, but agrees to come by.

Many of the kids on the curb are under 16, and are violating the city of Glendale's curfew laws. But the police release all but a few, after issuing stern caveats to go home, or else.

The words of warning don't resonate.

Even before they get to their cars, several kids are back on their cell phones trying to find out where the next party is.

"Got one in Avondale," a 17-year-old named Henry announces, just out of earshot of the Glendale cops. "We there!"

A west Phoenix funeral home is packed with mourners. Someone murdered Jose Renteria three days ago, and now is the time to grieve.

Many of the younger mourners are wearing white tee shirts inscribed with the words, "Jose Renteria Aguirre, RIP, 1991-2005."

Jose looks even younger than 14 in the photographic image also silk-screened onto the shirts.

His body lies in an open casket, a simple white band wrapped around his head to disguise the fatal bullet hole in his left temple. Six red roses rest on his chest.

Despite his youth, Jose was a leader of the party crew Rockin' The Streetz, also known as RTS. Though he was slight of stature, Jose had won many friends by dint of his cool street patter and winning smile.

Jose fancied himself a topflight tagger, a graffiti artist, and he signed his name "Sife Onez." Sife is what most of his friends called him, not his given name.

For three hours, the mourners approach the casket to say goodbye after hugging Jose's mother, Maria. She sits in the front row dressed in black, and sobs inconsolably.

The funeral director looks on from a respectful distance, noting later that he's seen mourners stick mementos into friends' coffins as a parting gesture, such as a bullet, a dagger, or such. He doesn't want that to happen at his establishment.

Jose's sisters, Marianna and Andrea, wander around the funeral home, accepting condolences and trying to hold themselves together. Jose's 7-year-old brother, Ivan, scampers around with other little ones, seemingly oblivious to the sadness around him.

Their father lives in Sonora, Mexico, where Jose is scheduled for burial a few days later.

Andrea, an 18-year-old senior at Avondale's La Joya Community High School, was just a few feet from her brother when a still-unidentified man in a passing car shot him. Moments earlier, the siblings and Andrea's boyfriend, Frank Dominguez, had left a house party on nearby West Earll Drive.

Andrea tells New Times that Rockin' The Streetz didn't have anything happening that night. Instead, the siblings and Dominguez decided about 10:30 p.m. to check out the newly announced party on 63rd Avenue and West Earll.

No matter that 10 p.m. marks curfew in the city of Phoenix for those under age 15. Jose pretty much had been doing as he'd wished for some time, what with his mother's long hours at work and no father around to supervise him.

A 15-year-old girl who lives with her parents at the party house on Earll later told a Phoenix detective how she'd come to host the shindig.

She claimed that members of party crews Dime Peace Entertainment and Playground Pimps had shared the bill, and offered her a coveted spot in one of the crews if she came through for them.

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