Elusive Walmart suspect’s run comes to an end in officer-involved shooting
PHOENIX – An armed suspect who has eluded authorities for the past couple of days had his crime spree come to an end in a shooting Monday night, authorities said.
Buckeye Police confirmed the man was Christopher Mendoza, 34, a suspect who got away from police at a Goodyear Walmart on Friday and then early Monday morning after an overnight barricade situation in Avondale.
A Buckeye police officer was on his way home when he saw a man that looked like Mendoza walking near Verrado Way and Watkins Street, just south of Lower Buckeye Road, Buckeye Police Department Public Information Officer Donna Rossi said.
The officer called for backup and was able to set up a perimeter.
Buckeye Police said Mendoza tried to break into a nearby home, but was unsuccessful, so he stole a pest control truck Monday afternoon that was left running.
Officers surrounded the vehicle and Mendoza drove towards the officers, who repeatedly told Mendoza to stop and drop his gun. Police officers fired several shots at Mendoza who eventually climbed out of the truck.
Police provided first-aid to Mendoza before he was airlifted to the hospital. His condition is currently unknown.
One officer suffered minor injuries, but is expected to be okay.
Earlier in the day, police had a home in Surprise surrounded for several hours on Monday where they believed Mendoza was inside, but he was not located there.
Prior to that, he was thought to be locked in a house later Monday morning morning near 107th Avenue and Buckeye Road in Avondale but authorities determined he wasn’t at the residence anymore, according to the Goodyear Police Department. He escaped on foot through the backyard early Monday while authorities were negotiating with him, police said.
He managed to get past the police perimeter and elude helicopter and K9 search teams.
Goodyear police SWAT and crisis negotiation teams were working to resolve the situation when Mendoza escaped from the first barricade situation.
The dayslong incident started around 1:30 a.m. Friday after police responded to reports of a man threatening his girlfriend with a gun at the Walmart near Interstate 10 and Estrella Parkway.
Mendoza allegedly reached for his gun and then fled out the back of the store after police confronted him, leading to the store being evacuated.
Police said Mendoza kidnapped a man near the store and demanded a ride to Avondale.
Mendoza was wanted by police on the following charges: two counts of aggravated assault on police and one count each of threatening/intimidating, threatening leading to an evacuation, misconduct involving weapons (prohibited possessor), disorderly conduct and kidnapping.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.