By Tom Scanlon
West Valley View Managing Editor
"Armed and dangerous" suspect Christopher Mendoza was shot by Buckeye Police officers Monday, Dec. 23, according to spokeswoman Donna Rossi. Mendoza was taken to a local hospital and is expected to recover.
An off-duty officer spotted the elusive Mendoza, 33, who was on the run from police since a Dec. 20 incident at a Goodyear Walmart. He is accused of aggravated assault and kidnapping.
Mendoza, who lives in Avondale, eluded multiple previous attempts by Goodyear and Avondale police to capture him.
Several who posted comments to a West Valley View Facebook post about the arrest expressed relief.
“Thank you BPD for risking your lives every day,” said Kim Mosteller. “Thank goodness this guy is off the streets.
“He held the entire west side up in fear,” commented Frances Cabrera. “Many couldn't leave their homes or return.”
The Buckeye off-duty officer who spotted Mendoza called for backup.
Rossi, who declined to give names of officers involved due to a pending investigation, said the off-duty officer and other officers surrounded Mendoza.
“(Mendoza) tried to break into a home but he was not able to get into the home. He ended up stealing a pest control vehicle that had the keys in it. Officers were able to surround and give commands to stop. At this point the vehicle was driving towards the officers.”
She said Mendoza was waving a gun and threatening to commit suicide.
Several officers fired at Mendoza after he continued refusing orders and driving at them, Rossi said.
After the shooting, Mendoza was taken to a hospital.
“Mendoza will be arrested upon his recovery and he will face charges from Goodyear Police,” said Lisa Berry, a spokeswoman for the Goodyear Police Department.
Goodyear Police responded to a call of a man pointing a gun at a woman at a Walmart in Goodyear at 1:30 a.m. Dec. 20. When confronted by police, Mendoza fled from the store. He then allegedly kidnapped a driver at gunpoint and demanded a ride to an Avondale location. The driver complied with the demand and was not harmed.
Late Sunday, Dec. 22, Goodyear Police spotted Mendoza in a vehicle and followed it, according to Berry. Mendoza ran from the car into an Avondale home, where he barricaded himself.
Police surrounded the home near 109th Avenue and Fourth Street, but early Monday, Mendoza “fled on foot out of the backyard, past a police department perimeter and disappeared into the neighborhood.”
Later Monday, Goodyear and Avondale police surrounded a home near West Fourth Street and Jean Elizabeth Place after a caller reported Mendoza was there. But, after searching for several hours, Mendoza was not found.
A few hours later, Buckeye Police officers ended the search.
Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall congratulated his officers for apprehending the “obviously desperate” suspect.