A 22-year-old Tempe man was killed on Tuesday after several men burst into his family's home and shot him during an apparent marijuana robbery.
Michael Perez was home with his wife and 3-year-old son in the 1000 block of East Manhattan Drive at about 9:20 p.m. when the assailants made a "forced entry," says Tempe police Lieutenant Michael Pooley.
(See below for update)
Police believe Perez was targeted for the marijuana at his home, which is near Rural Road and the U.S. 60 freeway. After shooting him, cops say, the suspects left with an undisclosed amount of pot. His wife and son were unharmed.
Neighbors reported cars coming and going frequently from the home in the recent past, Pooley tells New Times, stopping short of saying Perez had been selling weed. The investigation is still ongoing, he says. Family members told detectives that Perez had a state medical-marijuana card, but the info hadn't been confirmed.
The suspects are still at large. No description has been released yet.
If you know anything, Tempe police ask that you call them at 480-350-8311, or use Silent Witness.
Perez was the CEO of a cannabis-inspired design company he founded, Highest Crew Clothing. The company sold T-shirts, other items with various pot-flavored takes on well-known images, like a sign reading, "Sorry, We're Dabbing," that apparently sees decent success in Internet sales.
The company sold actual cannabis products at times, it seems. Last year, a post on the company's Facebook site advertised "medicated tamales" for medical-marijuana patients. "Finish off the year strong with this special delicious treat for the holidays! Contact us using one of the methods listed on the image, or send a message here."
Court records show Perez was wanted for skipping a court date related to an arrest on suspicion of marijuana and "dangerous drug" violations.
Messages expressing condolences showed up in social media on Wednesday:
"RIP brother, I'll be dabbing all day for you"
Dustin E. Rip "#mikeperez u will b missed"
"Rest in peace. Hope there's all the dabs you could ever want up there for you"
Ryan Killgannon "I feel honored to even know you mike let alone all of this.. #ripmike"
razdiddy14 R.I.p. Mike you were a chill ass dude and will be missed
emilietreez "I can't even believe the news. Rest in paridise."
nkcochran "I am so sorry for your loss, heaven gains another angel too soon"
UPDATE: January 1 -- After publication, Tempe police released some new information and a surveillance video in hopes of finding the suspects. At least three men took part in the home invasion, police say -- we altered our original article slightly to reflect that.
The short, disturbing video begins with a black-and-white video of a Christmas tree to the left, complete with the kid's toy truck and opened wrapping paper, and to the right, men in hoodies with guns charging through what appears to be the front door. A second video, in color, depicts one of the gun-wielding men seeming to give someone directions with his gloved finger. See the vid below:
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