PHOENIX — A “Most Wanted” man sought in a 2009 gang-related Phoenix shooting in which a
passer-by was killed has been arrested.
Cameron Leezell Taylor, 26, was on the U.S Marshals Office’s “15 Most Wanted” list. Police had been searching for him since 2009 for the murder of 55-year-old Gilbert Leon.
Fred Freeman of the U.S. Marshals Office says cops got a tip Thursday night that Taylor was at a relative’s apartment near 7th and Southern Avenues.
“He (Taylor) didn’t barricade himself inside, he just didn’t answer the door,” Freeman said. “I believe that a few windows were broken, and they (police) overpowered him and he was taken into custody without incident.”
The Marshals Service said Taylor was sought for unlawful flight to avoid
prosecution on allegations of attempted murder, aggravated assault,
endangerment, assisting a criminal street gang and a drive-by shooting.
Court documents alleged that Taylor had been hidden by family members across various states who knew he was wanted for years. The case was even featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.”
The service said Leon was struck by a stray bullet from
gang-related gunfire near 16th Street and Southern Avenue, as he returned home from visiting family members.
Taylor also allegedly opened fire on another vehicle prior to the shooting that killed Leon. Documents said he was targeting a rival gang member and possibly wounded one person in the vehicle.
Another vehicle was struck by the passing gunfire, causing a flat tire.
Phoenix Police Det. Karl Martin has been working the case from the beginning. He said that even though Taylor’s been on the run all these years, he has not been a free man.
“In a sense, in the last four years, he’s been living in his own prison, a self-imposed prison,” Martin said. “This is a great, great day to have this finally come to an end.”
Leon’s mother, Carmencia Leon, says she is grateful to Martin for his compassion and persistence in finding her son’s killer. There was a time when she and her family wondered whether police were still working on the case, but she said Martin did something to change that.
“He would send us a little card saying, ‘We haven’t forgotten,'” said Leon. “He even left a little card at (her son’s) cross. He left a little card there saying ‘We don’t forget.'”
Leon said both the Phoenix Police and the U.S. Marshals Office did a great job with the case.
“They worked together to bring him to justice, and to give Gilbert the justice that he deserves,” she said.
KTAR’s Bob McClay contributed to this report.