Dead Man in Drug Shooting Started Fight, Records Show, But All Involved May be Charged With Murder

The man shot dead in a Phoenix apartment gunfight on December 20 apparently started the trouble when he tried to rob the men selling him 150 pounds of marijuana, records show.

Phoenix police are seeking the public's help in finding two suspects still outstanding from the incident, Julio Gonzalez Valenzuela, 37, and Ramiro Ortega, 27. Police Sergeant Steve Martos says the two are wanted in connection with a possible felony murder charge in the death of David Banuelos.

The incident began when a man who lived at an apartment at 2642 North 43rd Avenue attempted to "broker" the bulk sale of marijuana from one group of men to another.

Just before noon, Aristeo Lopez and two pals went to the apartment to sell the pot to four men, including David Banuelos, court records state.

Banuelos, who spent 2003 to 2009 in an Arizona prison for theft, pulled out a "large amount of counterfeit currency" to make the deal.

It's unclear whether the seller knew the money was fake, but Banuelos apparently had no intention of paying anything: He drew a handgun and demanded the pot and Lopez's wallet.

"A gunfight ensued inside the apartment," records state.

Lopez was shot in the leg. Banuelos and Ortega were also shot.

Banuelos' accomplices fled the apartment. Valenzuela, driving a 2003 Dodge truck with the license plate 51FB40, dropped an unidentified individual off at a nearby hospital and fled.

Banuelos died of his wounds.

Ortega is known to drive a 2004 Nissan 350Z with pink wheels and a license plate reading OFBP33.

Even Lopez, who was being robbed, could be charged with felony murder under Arizona law, Martos explains, because Banuelos was killed during the commission of a felony.