Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from April 8-10

Apr 10, 2022, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:09 pm
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — One firefighter was killed and another was critically hurt in an ambulance crash on Friday, Gilbert police fatally shot an armed 27-year-old man following a standoff near his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego in her State of the City address said she would not defund the city’s police department.

Here are some of the biggest stories that headlined the Arizona news cycle over the weekend.

2 firefighters identified in ambulance crash that left 1 dead

One Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community firefighter was killed and a second critically injured when their ambulance collided with a tractor-trailer rig on Friday, authorities said.

The firefighters were identified as Brendon Bessee and Tyler Packer. Bessee, the driver of the vehicle, was killed and Packer was critically injured in the wreck on State Route 87 on the tribe’s reservation on the east side of metro Phoenix, tribal President Martin Harvier said in a statement Saturday.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said the driver of the tractor-trailer rig, who was identified only as a woman, had minor injuries and that the wreck occurred after the ambulance turned onto the highway while responding to a non-emergency call.

Authorities were not able to determine whether the sirens or lights on the ambulance were on.

Cause of the crash was under investigation, DPS said.

Gilbert police fatally shoot armed man after standoff near ex-girlfriend’s apartment

Gilbert police fatally shot an armed 27-year-old man early Saturday morning following a standoff near his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, authorities said.

Police responded to the apartment complex near Santan Village Parkway and Williams Field Road just before 8 p.m. on Friday after receiving a call from the woman saying the man, who she had an order of protection against, was on his way to her residence, the Gilbert Police Department said in a social media post.

The man allegedly removed an ankle bracelet he had received for an incident unrelated to the woman prior to going to the apartment, authorities said.

A Gilbert officer arrived at the apartment and began talking to the woman when the man approached. The officer then made contact with the man, who authorities said fled with a gun in his hand.

The man was located following a search of the complex and a three-hour standoff began.

Just after 2 a.m. on Saturday, authorities said the man presented a threat to officers and was shot by lethal and less-lethal rounds.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Mayor Gallego says she won’t defund Phoenix Police in State of the City address

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego firmly stated Friday in her annual State of the City address she would not defund the city’s police department, which has been under the microscope in recent months and remains under federal investigation.

“So today, I say publicly and without reservation: I have never and will never defund the Phoenix Police Department,” Gallego, a Democrat, said during her speech at the Phoenix Convention Center.

A tumultuous year for Phoenix Police since Gallego’s last address was highlighted by the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the department’s use-of-force practices.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division opened the review, which is ongoing, in August over potential civil rights violations and abuses of power.

Gallego acknowledged that the department has had its struggles.

“Is our department perfect? No. No police agency in the country is without its flaws,” Gallego said. “We know our community has high expectations that we have not always met.”

Valley Metro, City of Phoenix renew financial program for light rail extension

The City of Phoenix and Valley Metro have agreed to renew the Small Business Financial Assistance Program through 2024, a project for businesses affected by light rail expansion in the Valley.

In the first year of the SBFAP, it granted over $360,000 to 62 businesses impacted by the light rail construction, according to a press release.

“The extra income these grants offer can make an enormous difference in the lives of local business employers and employees during light rail construction,” said Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego in the press release.

“What originally started out as a pilot program has been so successful, it will continue through 2024.”

Arizona couple found guilty of scheming investors out of $5 million

A couple in Tucson was found guilty on charges related to scheming investors of their software company out of approximately $5 million by a jury on Friday.

Michael, 73, and Betsy Feinberg, 80, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and five counts of securities fraud, according to a press release.

The couple ran the Catharon Software Corporation which promised to produce revolutionary software called VDelta, according to the release. They recruited friends and associates in Sedona, where the couple resided, to invest for almost 15 years, lying about the software’s completion, release date and capabilities.

The Feinbergs used investor money to pay themselves salaries and personal expenses including their home mortgage, according to the release.

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Weekend wrap-up: Here are the biggest Arizona stories from April 8-10