Family urges community to help identify suspect in fatal 2022 Phoenix shooting

Jan 18, 2024, 11:15 AM | Updated: 1:59 pm

PHOENIX — Authorities are asking the community for assistance with identifying a suspect in a fatal Phoenix shooting that took place in 2022.

Leonel Pineda-Valdez, 27, was found fatally shot inside his vehicle shortly after 11 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2022, near 67th Avenue and Thomas Road, shortly after he was seen around a verbal altercation nearby, the Phoenix Police Department said.

“With detectives still searching and family still mourning, community involvement may be the break this case needs,” Phoenix Police Sgt. Brian Bower said in a press release.

Pineda-Valdez’s mother, sister, brother and fiancé participated in a press conference on Wednesday, hosted by Phoenix Police and Silent Witness, to spread the word about their loved one.

They’re determined to know who would have killed Pineda-Valdez, whose family refers to as a hard-working, respectful, smart, driven and loving mama’s boy.

Everything we know about the 2022 fatal Phoenix shooting

Officers responded to the homicide scene and found Pineda-Valdez dead inside his vehicle.

Detectives determined that Pineda-Valdez was at 67th Avenue and Thomas Road in the Walgreen’s parking lot, where witnesses described a verbal fight that led to several rounds being fired from a gun.

Shortly after witnesses heard the gunshots, Pineda-Valdez was seen in his car driving across 67th Avenue, ultimately crashing into a fence on the other side of the street.

Witnesses also reported a suspect vehicle leaving the area, police said.

“There was an argument that took place. We know that there are several people, male and female, in this argument when this all took place. There’s a chaotic scene for everybody involved,” Bower said at the press conference. “But that’s what Silent Witness is here for.”

Family pleads for any answers in Phoenix shooting

According to Pineda-Valdez’s fiancé, just before 11 p.m. that fatal night, he called her to let her know he had just finished his grocery and shopping services shift and was on his way home.

“His last words to me were ‘I’ll be home in 5-10 minutes. I love you. I’ll see you right now,'” Maria Martinez said at the conference. She said those 5 minutes have kept passing ever since.

“So those people who did this to him, I pray they suffer worse than what he suffered before he left.”

The victim’s brother, Eduardo Pineda, asked anyone involved in the murder to empathize with his family’s situation. Eduardo said after coming out as gay, Leonel provided overwhelming support, something he knows he was fortunate enough to have from a brother.

“Imagine not being able to walk with your family again. Imagine being in that position, to have someone who’s seriously so proud of you for being yourself, and not being able to hear those words again,” Eduardo said.

“Do you know how it changes someone and for someone not to have any answers? Please, if there’s anyone who has any answers, not just for me but for our community – and especially for my mom – please call Silent Witness.”

Danitza Pineda, the victim’s sister, said that it was out of character for Leonel to argue with strangers.

“We just want somebody to come forward, just say something, please,” Danitza said at the press conference.

“I hope somebody has it in their heart to come forward and just say something to Silent Witness, something they saw maybe, because I know he didn’t fight like that or try to get in arguments with people that he didn’t know.”

Anyone with information was asked to call the Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (948-6377) or 480-TESTIGO (837-8446) for Spanish. Information leading to an arrest could be eligible for a reward.

Bower added that Silent Witness maintains the anonymity of tipsters, refraining from requesting personal information, such as birth date or name.

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Family urges community to help identify suspect in fatal 2022 Phoenix shooting