Suspect who opened fire on troopers on I-17 investigated in Mesa murder

Posted at 10:14 PM, Dec 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-29 16:40:53-05

The suspect police say was involved in a shootout with DPS troopers the day after Christmas is an undocumented man who has repeatedly been deported. 

ABC15 knows the name of the suspect, but is not identifying him because of the ongoing investigation. But new details of the event leading to the kidnapping, carjacking and shootout with troopers may give clues as to why the suspect was asking his victims to take him to Mexico.

RELATED: 3 men shot during officer-involved shooting on Interstate 17

Mesa police tell ABC15 the 31-year-old suspect was being investigated for a Christmas Eve murder. Police were called out to an apartment complex near Broadway Road and Mesa Drive. They found one person stabbed, and another man dead from a gunshot wound.

The victim, Carlos Romero, said he and his brother had been living with the suspect for a year. Romero said he confronted the suspect after finding out he was selling drugs inside their apartment.

"I told him he couldn't do that, and he got mad," said Romero.

Police said the suspect stabbed his roommate twice, once in the arm and then in the chest.

The victim told ABC15 the suspect then took a gun, shooting and killing the roommate's brother. Jose Alberto Antonio-Romero was pronounced dead at the scene.

"It was all too fast, I couldn't believe he did that since we were living together," said Romero.

Two days later and still on the run, the suspected killer was trying to leave the county. Phoenix police said he carjacked one man demanding a ride to Mexico. The two struggled with the steering wheel as they headed south on I-17 and eventually crashed. 

The suspect made several attempted to carjack other cars, and shot at his victims when he didn't get his way.  One victim received minor injuries, the other is paralyzed from the waist down. The 31-year old eventually turned his gun on troopers and that's when they fired back, shooting him.

"I'm glad they got him so he won't hurt anyone else," said Romero.

Court documents show the man has a disturbing criminal history. In 2003, he was convicted for selling drugs out of a Phoenix home. While on probation in 2004, he was busted during a traffic stop from having a gun and drugs on him. 

Then in 2006, he was arrested and convicted again for getting caught with a gun. He served three years in prison, getting out six months early in 2009. He was deported, but in 2010 he was picked up by border patrol agents in New Mexico for entering the U.S. illegally.

He served three years before getting deported again. Sources tell ABC15 he's been deported at least three times but keeps sneaking back into the country.

The suspect is still in the hospital recovering from injuries.