ARIZONA NEWS

Gang member who shot Phoenix police officer sentenced to 25 years in prison

Apr 15, 2024, 3:00 PM

Split image of the mugshot of a heavily tattooed Joseph E. Lopez on the left and officer Morgan Bul...

Joseph E. Lopez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for shooting officer Morgan Bullis on March 24, 2023. Bullis was released from the hospital a day after the shooting and returned to work about four months later. (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Phoenix Police Department Photos)

(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and Phoenix Police Department Photos)

PHOENIX – A gang member who shot a police officer in south Phoenix last year was sentenced to 25 years in prison, authorities announced Monday.

Officer Morgan Bullis survived the March 24, 2023, shooting in a neighborhood southwest of Broadway Road and Seventh Avenue. She was released from the hospital a day after getting shot and returned to work about four months later.

Joseph E. Lopez, 30, received his sentence Friday after pleading guilty in January to one count of aggravated assault, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

Additional charges of attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon and prohibited weapons possession were dismissed as part of the plea deal, according to online court records.

Shooter was gang member at time of arrest, prosecutors say

Lopez was a criminal street gang member at the time of his arrest, according to prosecutors. He had five prior felony convictions and was on probation.

“This was a brutal, unprovoked attack on officer Bullis that caused serious injuries to her,” County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a press release. “In light of the recent attacks against police officers, this case being sentenced to the highest possible prison term under the plea agreement shows my commitment to making sure those who attack the men and women in uniform are held to the highest punishment possible.”

What happened on day Phoenix officer was shot?

The violent incident started around 9:15 a.m., when Bullis responded to the area of 11th and Atlanta avenues after a man crashed his car into the front yard of a residence.

The driver shot at Bullis multiple times before she left her patrol vehicle, striking her in the hip, according to court records. She also was hit in the lip with a fragment.

A witness told police the suspect fled on foot. While police searched the area, investigators were able to identify Lopez as the suspect. He was taken into custody after an hourslong standoff at a nearby apartment complex.

Lopez allegedly told police he’d taken two Percocets and two Xanax pills and had been drinking. He said he “could not remember if he did or did not shoot the officer,” according to the probable cause statement for his arrest.

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Gang member who shot Phoenix police officer sentenced to 25 years in prison