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MCSO: One suspect dead, one arrested after firing shots at Phoenix firefighters Thursday night

KNXV 48th Street Broadway MCSO Deputy-Involved Shooting.jpg
Posted at 3:21 PM, Sep 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 01:19:04-04

PHOENIX — MCSO says one suspect is dead and another has been taken into custody, both wanted for shooting at Phoenix firefighters during a burglary attempt at a station in Laveen Thursday night.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said both men were targeted during separate raids on Friday.

An hour after a law enforcement briefing, 18-year-old Matthew Marquez was taken into custody at his home near 24th Street and Baseline Road without incident.

Hours later, authorities say the second suspect, 20-year-old Elijah Boatley, was shot during an incident with deputies that are part of the FBI's Violent Gang Task Force near 48th Street and Broadway Road. The deputies were members of MCSO's Fugitive Apprehension Team, and also part of the FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force.

Sheriff Penzone said deputies boxed in Boatley's van outside of the Tempe mini-mart after they saw two women from the vehicle walk inside. Deputies hopped out of their car and shouted commands while holding Boatley at gunpoint. According to Penzone, surveillance video showed Boatley get out of the van, close the door, and turn towards deputies allegedly holding a gun.

At that time, MCSO says deputies fired rubber and real bullets. Authorities would not say how many times their deputies fired shots. Boatley was rushed to an area hospital in critical condition, but later died from his injuries.

Penzone said during their investigation, a toddler was discovered in Boatley's vehicle.

"None of our deputies had any idea that there was a child in the vehicle at the time," said Penzone.

Relatives of Boatley said they were heartbroken and furious at the loss of life. Multiple family members told ABC15 they do not think the video shows Boatley holding a gun or threatening the deputies.

"They identified themselves and started shooting," said James Gary, Boatley's grandfather. "[It was] too quick!"

Boatley was the oldest of five boys, and had apparently just moved to Arizona in the past three months to take care of his mother.

"I don’t know what he was going through or anything like that, but I know he didn’t deserve to die," said Gary. "Every time you see him, he was happy... He was always helping people."

Boatley and Marquez were wanted after Phoenix Fire Department personnel of Station 58 near 51st Avenue and Dobbins Road noticed two men possibly breaking into one of their vehicles in the fenced station yard around 8:30 p.m.

Police say firefighters approached the suspects, but the men jumped a fence and ran. While fleeing, one of the men turned around and reportedly fired three shots at the firefighters. None of the firefighters were struck.

Phoenix police set up a perimeter and searched the area, but were unable to find the two suspects.

MCSO said physical evidence at the scene led detectives to Marquez, who then told investigators about Boatley. Sheriff Penzone said it was still unclear who fired the shots at the firefighters. Marquez, however, is facing multiple counts of aggravated assault.

Captain Rob McDade with the Phoenix Fire Department says it was a scary and intense moment for the firefighters who were shot at.

"We risk a lot to save a lot,” McDade said. “The last thing we expect to ever happen is to come home to our firehouse and be attacked."

"We understand and are looking at how we will be prepared for these type of risks. But this has changed the Phoenix Fire Department for us," said Scott Walker, Phoenix Fire's Executive Assistant Fire Chief.

The fire station break-in is not an isolated incident, according to officials.

Phoenix police told ABC15 that officers are working a number of car burglaries involving firefighter's personal unlocked cars at fire stations in "south and southwest Phoenix."

Sgt. Vince Lewis said right now there is "no physical evidence to link them all together, but the proximity and methods are something to consider. No suspects are in custody."