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Shooting at Rally's leaves five wounded

 by Justin Neeley
 published on Wednesday, April 25, 2007


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A shooting at Rally's fast food restaurant in Tempe, located at the corner of Priest and University drives Tuesday night left five people wounded and police searching for at least three suspects.

Witnesses told police that around 8:30 p.m., two unidentified black males shot at patrons over a wall from across the southeast corner of the intersection while they were dining in the crowded outside patio area of the restaurant. Police said the two men then fled east on foot. Eye-witnesses to the shooting told police that the alleged gunmen appeared to have been armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, though police said the preliminary crime scene reports indicate that the shooters fired birdshot pellets.

Several hours later, police discovered where the two alleged assailants, who police are calling "persons of interest", were located. Swat team members dressed in full riot gear, along with k-9 units and several uniformed officers stormed an apartment building located just west of the intersection of University and Beck drives.

Police surrounded the perimeter of the small, two-story, six-unit apartment building, and ordered both men to come out with their hands up. Police made several more requests for the men to come out before they finally complied, which ended a 30 minute standoff between the men and police. The two men, along with a woman whose identity is also not known, were taken into custody and interviewed as "persons of interest."

Residents near the scene of the shooting and the standoff expressed shock and surprise that something like this would happen in their neighborhood. Scott Gherke, 20, of Tempe has been a resident for two years at the Vale condominium complex, which is located only mere steps from where the alleged assailants were apprehended.

"I've lived here for two years and never seen anything like this. Sure you might run across a few undesirable characters from time to time, but I figured that this was an otherwise quiet and peaceful neighborhood," Gherke said.

Jeff Garcia, 25, also a resident at the Vale, said he was pulling into the Vale's underground parking garage located off of Beck Drive, when he saw police cars and swat team members gathered on the other side of Beck.

"I was coming home from work, and I turned onto Beck to pull my car into the garage when I noticed about four Tempe Police Ford Expeditions, dogs and policeman dressed in full riot gear. I've always assumed that this was a fairly decent neighborhood, so my first reaction was that they were conducting drills. Then I looked at the clock and it said 12:15 a.m., and I knew then that this was no drill, and that this was for real. This being Arizona, I figured they were getting ready to raid a meth lab or something," Garcia said.

Lt. James Click of the Tempe Police Department said that detectives and other officers are investigating to see whether or not this was related to a previous incident involving disorderly conduct with a firearm, which occurred near the same location as this current incident.

"We don't have any solid evidence right now that the two incidents are related, but there seems to be a strong possibility that they are. Right now we are interviewing them as persons of interest and hope to have some questions answered regarding what exactly happened and who the perpetrators are," Click said.



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