| Crime |

Three Arrested for Shooting at Piestewa Peak Cactus

Good for looking at, bad for target practice.
Good for looking at, bad for target practice.
Flikr user bobistraveling, CC 2.0

Police arrested three men on Monday for allegedly shooting a handgun at a saguaro cactus in Piestewa Peak Park, according to a media release from the Phoenix Police Department.

Phoenix police responded to a call of shots fired at 6:08 p.m. at approximately 2700 East Squaw Peak Drive, which is within park boundaries. They arrested Forte Nicholas, 29, Kyonnie Hodge, 38, and Aaron Bradford, 23.

Bradford and Nicholas were each suspected of discharging a firearm within city limits and a count of endangerment. Police want Hodge charged with those counts, in addition to one count each of being a prohibited possessor of firearms, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Nicholas brought his 1-year-old child to the impromptu target-shooting session in a seat carrier, under which police found the handgun.

All three men were booked in county jail.

Under Arizona law, it's a felony to fire a firearm "with criminal negligence," which means just about anytime it's not an accident or in self-defense, within the limits of any city. Possessing any testable amount of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Arizona are also felonies, except for state-registered medical-marijuana patients.

Piestewa Peak, formerly called Squaw Peak, is one of the most popular hiking areas in the state, pulling in a healthy chunk of the 3.5 million estimated annual visits at Phoenix park trails.

Uber-hiker Lee Thomason of Phoenix said he was on his way down from the summit when he heard "repetitive rapid fire gunfire coming from somewhere near the ranger station." It seemed to be four different episodes of about eight rounds each, he told Phoenix New Times.

He called 911 and park rangers, and probably wasn't the only one to do so. "Within seconds" of his call, cop cars started rolling in to the park. A few minutes later, at least 10 police vehicles and a ranger vehicle drove in, he said.

"Anyone stupid enough to be firing a weapon in a public city park couldn't possibly have public safety in mind," said Thomason, who's retired and said he hikes to local summits three to six times a day, consecutively. "It's nice to know [that] unlike the shooters, police and park rangers take public safety extremely seriously."

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