Risky Business

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It remains uncertain if Jose Renteria and Francisco Atilano were targeted or were the victims of random violence.

Doctors kept Jose alive overnight as his family wrestled with the truth of the situation. Jose's mother then allowed the doctors to harvest his vital organs before he officially was pronounced dead.

The rumors ran wild in the party crew community after the murder. Some suggested that crews competing with RTS in the house party scene had been responsible.

But a crew leader from Playground Pimps, who calls himself Bigman, tried to dispel talk that he and his buddies had gone after Jose.

"He was our homie, you stupid fucks," Bigman wrote on the RottenApplez Web site two days after the murder. "I was with Jose and Bobby from RTS like a minute before he died. I was on the hood of my truck counting the money from our party when he got shot. . . . Our prayers go out to Jose and his family."

The murder also inspired a poem titled "The Life" by a West Valley high school student who calls himself J-Keys.

"It's disgraceful how cruel people can be," J-Keys wrote. "As soon as they hear of a death, they admire it. They think of it as a joke and a good laugh.

"But what's so funny about taking the life of a 14-year-old? How could someone be so harsh and take the life of a little angel? The life of a mother's baby. The life of a sister's brother. The life of someone's best friend. The life of Jose Ramon Aguirre Renteria."

A car wash organized by Rockin' The Streetz and Jose's family raised more than $3,000 to defray the costs of the young man's wake in Phoenix and his burial in Mexico.

Momentum to find Jose's killer was strong immediately after his murder. But Phoenix detectives ran into roadblocks sadly familiar to those who investigate homicides.

"Fuck snitches!" an anonymous punk warned in a Web chat room shortly after Phoenix police announced the Silent Witness award.

Then another unnamed scribe who signed his (or her) message "602" wrote of being "sorry about Jose, but if you step out of line that's what happens in the 602. This isn't a threat to all you pussies in the 480 or the 623, it's a warning.

"That's how we handle our shit in the 602. If you stay chill, there is nothing to worry about, but don't start shit if you ain't willing to finish it."

Out of curiosity, the Phoenix cop heading the Renteria murder investigation asked the teenage girl who'd offered up her parents' home how her parents had reacted to the situation.

"They were mad and made me clean everything up," she told him. "And I had to promise not to do that ever again."

Rashelle Carpenter's murder less than 24 hours after Jose Renteria's didn't have the same impact on the house party community as Jose's.

That's probably because Rashelle wasn't as integral to the scene as Jose. But to those who knew and loved her, the loss was devastating.

For someone who was just 17, Rashelle had unusual direction and focus in her life. She had graduated in 2004 from Glendale Mountain Ridge High School, where she was class valedictorian, then enrolled at Glendale Community College.

There, Rashelle took classes in criminal justice, with an eye toward a career as a prosecutor. In fact, she was just finishing a project on gun control when, in a nasty irony, she was shot to death.

She was planning to move to San Diego during the holidays, where she was going to attend the University of California, San Diego.

"I try to live life to the FULLEST," Rashelle wrote on MySpace.com shortly before she died. "I'm moving to Cali after Christmas, and I can't wait! I've always wanted to live there. I'm thinking about getting a bike when I move. I want to eventually have a big lifted truck with lots of toys behind it, like quads, jet skis, a boat etc. College is just too expensive for all that right now. I know I'm gonna need a good job to get what I want so I'm going to school for Law. I can have a good time doing almost anything. "

Phoenix police reports say the owner of a north Phoenix home on West White Feather Lane and the small crew running the party, known as The Insomniacs, wouldn't allow entry to several youngsters who showed up at the same time. One of those turned away, Christen Beckner, allegedly fired his handgun into a group of kids as he left the area.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin