Two troublemaking teens from a Tempe trailer park stand accused of nearly killing passengers in two cars with rifle fire.
Ivan Dominguez, 18, and an unnamed 15-year-old were arrested and booked into jail on Thursday night in connection with the crime.
Detectives zeroed in on the boys one day after the fearsome but short shooting spree Wednesday night along Kyrene Road just north of Baseline Road, adjacent to Chaparral Mobile Village, a community of 200 or more mobile homes.
Police were alerted of the shots about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday by one driver, then another minutes later. The first shot entered through the vehicle's front windshield, police said, missing the head of an 8-year-old by inches.
The crime evoked memories of the shooting terror that struck along mostly Interstate 10 in Phoenix over the summer. Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., then 21, was arrested in the most serious of several incidents in which 11 vehicles were struck with bullets, pellets, or BBs between August 29 and September 10.
"Here we go again," said one Facebook user on New Times' site after Wednesday's incident, echoing the thoughts of other local residents.
"We had nothing to go on," says Lieutenant Mike Pooley, Tempe police spokesman. "We treated this as if they were dangerous criminals. We knew they were bad and dangerous people."
The trailer park, the closest residential area to the crime scene, was a natural first choice for questions. Neighbors and management gave detectives an earful about a group of teenagers living in one of the mobile homes who had been causing trouble for other residents, Pooley tells New Times.
"If they'd shot and killed someone, their lives would be over." — Lieutenant Michael Pooley, Tempe PD, on the arrest of two teenagers in connection with this week's car-shooting incident.
The brat pack included one teen with a history of running away and "incorrigible" behavior, he says. But police found out the tight-knit community hadn't been reporting the worst of the teens' actions, such as frequent fighting and intimidating other residents.
When confronted, Dominguez and the 15-year-old confessed to shooting at the vehicles, Pooley says. Another underage teen was at the scene at the time, but he never used the gun and wasn't arrested.
"If they'd shot and killed someone, their lives would be over," Pooley says. As it turns out, he says, they'll still "suffer the consequences."
Dominguez is accused of one count of aggravated assault and two counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm. The 15-year-old is accused of four counts of aggravated assault and three counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm. Police also are seeking criminal damage charges against both.
Pooley didn't know how the teens obtained the .22-caliber rifle used in the shootings. The minimum age for buying a rifle in Arizona is 18.