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Owner of truck Antonio Arce was allegedly burglarizing before Tempe PD shooting speaks out

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jan 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-22 08:42:17-05

TEMPE, AZ — The man who says his truck is the one a teen was burglarizing prior to police fatally shooting him is speaking out. He now admits he's not sure what all was inside the vehicle, where police say 14-year-old Antonio Arce stole an airsoft gun.

On Tuesday, January 15, a Tempe police officer shot and killed 14-year-old Antonio Arce after the officer says he observed him burglarizing the truck.

RELATED: Bodycam released in deadly police shooting of 14-year-old

The truck owner, who asked us to hide his identity, told ABC15 he was unloading his vehicle in the alley next to his house near 48th Street and Vineyard last Tuesday when he went inside. No more than seven minutes later, he says he heard the shots from the Tempe police officer, who was chasing after a 14-year-old accused of burglarizing the vehicle.

"Just sad that it went down like that," the man said. "He was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

In other media reports, the truck owner has disputed part of the police version of events. Tempe police have said the teen stole an airsoft gun from the truck, which was later found with him. The truck owner says he saw both airsoft guns he knew about inside the truck after the shooting occurred, indicating none were stolen. But when pressed on Monday, he admitted he's not completely sure how many airsoft guns he had.

"We remain open and honest about all aspects of this incident and investigation while preserving confidential information and respecting the family of Antonio Arce, the juvenile involved," said Tempe Police in a statement released Monday afternoon.

"We saw an article published regarding an interview with the registered owner of the truck that was burglarized on 1/15/2019 just prior to the officer involved shooting. Some statements made in this article are in direct conflict with the previous official statements given to our detectives on the day of the shooting. These and other statements reported in the referenced story are in direct conflict with Body Worn Camera footage and other evidence that was gathered from the first officers and detectives that arrived on scene. The Juvenile, without question, received CPR from our officers and there is no evidence that any Taser was used during this incident. Additionally, the story seems to leave open questions about how the Airsoft Pistol got to the scene. Multiple Body Worn Camera angles from the real-time response show the pistol beneath and beside the juvenile as officers approached and rendered aid. No gaps in footage exist."

The man told ABC15 he had just gotten his truck back after it had been impounded for 40 days. He says he buys from storage units and collects old items, so given the large pile he says it's unclear what all was inside the truck.

"There could have been a third or a fourth (airsoft gun)," he said "I don't know. We had so much stuff in there."

"I know for a fact there was two (airsoft guns)," he said. "There could have been another one because I hadn't finished cleaning."

The truck owner says he is sure his cell phone went missing from the truck, and says he has spoken with the teen's mother.

"I said 'I'm very sorry for her loss," he said. "I can replace a cell phone but I can't replace a kid."