PD: Man accused of shooting Mesa teacher facing homicide charges in Arizona

Posted at 8:28 PM, Feb 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 15:16:18-05

A man accused of shooting and killing a Mesa teacher last month is back in Arizona. 

Tempe police announced on Thursday that 27-year-old Caleb Bartels is facing homicide charges for allegedly shooting Ryne Zahner on Jan. 15.

According to officials, Zahner was in his backyard with a friend when Bartels ordered the pair to put their hands up. The suspect allegedly fired three to four shots, striking Zahner in the torso. 

Bartels is also accused of evading authorities after the shooting. He was stopped by officers in northern Arizona and Utah on the night of the shooting. The following day, he was pulled over by Nevada law enforcement. 

All three incidents occurred before a nationwide warrant was issued for his arrest so he was let go, officials said. 

Bartels was eventually arrested Jan. 21 in Doyle, California after an off-duty trooper spotted his car parked alongside the highway. Tempe police went to California to investigate the case.

It's believed that Bartels and Zahner knew each other, but the exact nature of their relationship is unknown.

Zahner was a math teacher at Mesa High School and according to his biography on the district website, he strived to create a positive learning environment for students to accomplish their goals.