Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu Quick to Point Out Gunshot Wound on Kidnapping Victim's Not Self-Inflicted; We've Heard That Before

We were hit with a case of de ja vu this morning when we read a press release from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office about a pair of illegal immigrants who were kidnapped and left in the desert, with one of the victims getting shot.

The story itself isn't what jarred our memory, it was a quote from Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu regarding self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

According to the Sheriff's Office, a deputy was flagged down by two men on Interstate 8 about 2:30 a.m. on Monday.

The men, Isvan Tohala-Lopez, 21, and Fernando Lopez-Morales, 27, are  undocumented but have been in the United States for about six years.


They told the deputy they were kidnapped, robbed, and assaulted by four or five unknown Hispanic men in a late-model black Cadillac Escalade near 35th Avenue and Buckeye Road in Phoenix at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The kidnappers demanded $3,500 to release the two but neither of the men had any money. They were held at a house in Phoenix until late in the evening, when they were blindfolded and driven into the desert.

The vehicle the men were in stopped briefly, and Lopez and Morales opened the door and started to run.

The kidnappers started shooting and hit Lopez twice in the back.

"Even though there are no witnesses and no suspects are in custody, we do not believe the injuries sustained by Mr. Lopez are either self-inflicted or from a gun fired in close contact," Babeu -- out of nowhere -- says in his press release.

Um, nobody said they were. We've also heard that before -- something on your mind, Paul?

The two admitted to officers that they were undocumented and say they have no idea why they were targeted.

We have an idea.

What this really sounds like is what our colleague Monica Alonzo reported about earlier this year -- coyotes kidnapping Mexicans and holding them for ransom when members of their Mexican cargo manage to escape. The coyotes are prone to grabbing anybody with brown skin off the street to keep their overlords happy -- you know, gotta replace misplaced merchandise (or else).

Lopez was taken to the Maricopa Medical Center in serious condition.

Anyone with information about the kidnapping is asked to call either the Phoenix Police Department or the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

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