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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from August 16-18

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

The potential return of two Southwest Key facilities, a return to the hospital for former Arizona legislator Don Shooter and an Oktoberfest announcement for an East Valley town.

Here are some stories that headlined the news cycle, both locally and nationally, over the weekend.


Southwest Key seeks to reopen 2 shuttered Arizona facilities

Southwest Key has applied for new licenses with the Arizona Department of Health Services to resume operations at two shuttered shelters for migrant minors in downtown Phoenix and Youngtown.

The locations closed last year after ADHS and Southwest Key reached a settlement in October, putting an end to the agency’s move to shut down all of the company’s 13 Arizona shelters by revoking their licenses.

Southwest Key is the country’s largest operator of shelters for migrant children and teens.

A federal agency suspended operations at the Youngtown site on Sept. 18, 2018, after reports of staff physically abusing a 7-year-old girl and two boys. Videos and records of those incidents document staff slapped, pushed, kicked and dragged the minors. Law enforcement and county prosecutors investigated the incidents and ultimately concluded no crimes were committed.

ADHS records show the downtown Phoenix location also documented cases where staff used physical restraints, in violation with state regulations, among several other deficiencies.


Expelled lawmaker Don Shooter returns to Phoenix hospital

Former Arizona legislator Don Shooter is back in a Phoenix hospital after being released earlier in the week after undergoing emergency surgery.

His son, D.J. Shooter, said Friday that his father is suffering from abdominal infection but his condition is improving.

He says Shooter remains “in good spirits” but may need additional surgery.

Shooter left the hospital Monday after undergoing surgery for an intestinal blockage and spending time on life support.

He had to be taken back early Thursday morning.

The Yuma Republican was expelled from the Legislature last year after being found to have propositioned a fellow lawmaker and made comments about her breasts. Other women came forward with similar complaints.


Gilbert announces inaugural Oktoberfest event for 2019

The town of Gilbert is getting in on the fall festivities.

Taking place at Gilbert’s Civic Center from 2 to 10 p.m., the East Valley suburb is hosting its inaugural Oktoberfest event Oct. 5, planning company HDE Agency announced in a press release.

“We are excited to kick off the autumn season with bratwurst, pretzels and refreshing Bavarian suds from Gilbert’s finest local craft breweries and restaurants,” Landon Evans, owner of HDE Agency, said in the release.

Gilbert’s Oktoberfest is filled with different things to do, including a cornhole tournament, a stein holding competition and wiener dog races. There will also be live music from local bands Ken Levine’s Funkhaus Brass Band, The Black Moods and 2 Tone Lizard Kings.

Tickets for Oktoberfest are $10 online presale and $20 the day of the event. Food and drink are not included in the price of admission. Kids 12 and under are free.


Luke AFB airman shot, killed after Phoenix apartment break-in attempt

An airman stationed at Luke Air Force Base was shot and killed Sunday morning while attempting to break into a Phoenix apartment, authorities said.

The 21-year-old airman was shot by the tenant of the apartment near 7th Street and Camelback Road at approximately 2:45 a.m., according to Phoenix police.

The tenant was woken up by the airman breaking a glass door screen in the back of the apartment and grabbed a gun, police said.

The airman was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said the tenant remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.

The tenant currently faces no criminal charges and the investigation is ongoing, according to police.


Medical examiner rules Epstein death a suicide by hanging

New York City’s medical examiner ruled Jeffrey Epstein’s death a suicide Friday, confirming after nearly a week of speculation that the financier faced with sex trafficking charges hanged himself in his jail cell.

Epstein, 66, was found dead at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on Aug. 10, touching off outrage that such a high-profile prisoner could have gone unwatched at the Manhattan federal lockup where infamous inmates Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff came and went without incident.

Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement that she made the suicide determination “after careful review of all investigative information, including complete autopsy findings.”

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