As police surrounded Christopher Mendoza in his Avondale neighborhood, his fellow gang members assisted his escape by firing gunshots at other locations and making multiple false 911 calls, according to booking documents.
Mendoza, 34, went on the run after allegedly threatening to kill his girlfriend Dec. 20, at a Goodyear Walmart. Following electronic trackings and tips, police chased Mendoza all over the West Valley, from Goodyear to Tolleson to Avondale and even Surprise.
While he was on the loose, the convicted felon allegedly told several people he would rather die than go back to prison.
Mendoza’s mother warned “her son will shoot it out with police,” according to the report.
Between sightings, Mendoza allegedly got high on heroin and methamphetamines while holed up in an attic.
Mendoza was not hard to spot. Television stations, newspapers and social media blasted out images of his tattoo-lined face.
Yet Mendoza, who allegedly had a network of accomplices, escaped multiple attempts to apprehend him—until Buckeye Police officers took down the “armed and dangerous” suspect Dec. 23. Mendoza did not fire at Buckeye officers, but he allegedly tried to run them over in a stolen car before police shot and stopped him.
When he discharged under police escort from Abrazo West Hospital Jan. 6, Goodyear Police charged Mendoza, who had his 34th birthday in the hospital, with 15 crimes, including aggravated assault and kidnapping.
Mendoza faces a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Maricopa County Superior Court.
The crime spree that brought chaos, chases, barricades and gunfire to Goodyear, Avondale and Buckeye began around 1:30 a.m. Dec. 20. According to a probable cause report prepared by Anthony Campillo, a Goodyear Police Department detective, Mendoza was heard threatening to shoot his girlfriend in the parking lot of Walmart at 1100 N. Estrella Parkway.
He then allegedly chased the woman into the store, where he made more threatening remarks.
When Goodyear Police officers responded, Mendoza allegedly refused their commands. Officers said they saw what appeared to be a gun in his waistband as he scrambled away and fled out a back door.
A man who lives on 158th Lane, less than a mile from the Walmart, saw the police cars as he pulled into his driveway. (The West Valley View is not publishing the name of the victim.)
The victim described Mendoza as alternately threatening and apologetic as he flashed a gun and demanded a ride to Avondale. The victim first offered his bike to Mendoza. According to the report, Mendoza insisted on being driven.
“The victim became more nervous and offered the subject to take his car. He did not want to give the subject a ride,” the report states.
“(Mendoza) then reached into his front hoodie pocket with his right hand, pulled a black handgun out and racked the slide. Mendoza informed the victim, ‘I’m trying to be nice.’”
Fearing for his life, the victim drove Mendoza to Greenleaf Lane and Main Street in Avondale.
During the 10-minute, 5-mile ride, the driver “felt like the subject was going to shoot him and take his car … he felt like he was going to get shot even though (Mendoza) did not threaten to shoot him or point the gun at him.”
According to the report, Mendoza told the driver he “messed up” and “did not want to go back” to prison. Mendoza also apologized for making the victim nervous.
Smelling powerfully of alcohol, Mendoza at one point during the alleged carjacking rolled down the window and vomited.
Tolleson: Gun found,
Later on Dec. 20, police tracked a vehicle associated with Mendoza to Premier Inns in Tolleson.
Goodyear Police saw surveillance footage of Mendoza entering a room at the motel, but by the time they went to the room he was gone.
Police did find a gun hidden in the motel room’s toilet tank. The two people in the room denied knowing anything about the gun or Mendoza.
Avondale: The chase resumes
On Dec. 21, according to Campillo’s report, a Goodyear detective “made contact with Jodi Mendoza, Christopher’s mother, and she stated Christopher is not at her house and she knows we have a warrant for her residence so we can search it and we will not find him there.
“Jodi also stated her son will shoot it out with police.”
The report said information was also obtained “Christopher’s dad is worried due to Christopher being off of his medication, abusing heroin, and taking Mexican ‘Percs’ (percocets, a powerful painkiller. Christopher also made a comment he has a lot of ammunition and clips.”
Police were then able to electronically associate Mendoza with a house on South Greenleaf Lane. According to the report, police suspected Mendoza was holding his girlfriend against her will at the location.
When she was spotted on the street, Mendoza’s girlfriend “was taken into custody for her safety as well as her outstanding charges.” She denied knowing where Mendoza was, according to the report.
The night of Dec. 22, Goodyear detectives doing surveillance of Greenleaf Lane spotted Mendoza getting into a car. Officers attempted to stop the car, but it fled. Mendoza was then seen jumping out of the car and running away.
The chase went across the Agua Fria River, to 111th Avenue and Cocopah Street, in an area known as Cashion.
Hindering the chase, according to the report, were “multiple citizens and people claiming to be (Mendoza’s) family. They were extremely upset about the situation.
“The neighborhood of Cashion has a long-standing gang that operates within the area by the name of Cashion Park Locos. (Mendoza) is a documented gang member for the gang as well as he has many family members and friends that live in the area that will hide him from police,” Campillo noted.
“While working in the neighborhood on circumstances such as this, multiple people come out in an attempt to intimidate, threaten and deter police from apprehending whomever they are attempting to take into custody. The neighborhood will call in fake calls to police and give false information in order to deter police resources in different locations where the suspect is not so he could get away.”
Campillo stated, as police attempted to calm crowds, Mendoza was spotted at a residence on West Fourth Street.
Campillo and others made contact with Mendoza and told him they would give him a phone to communicate with them.
“As I was standing out front, (Mendoza) came out from the front door with a gun fastened to his mouth and a jug in his hand - attached with a string to the trigger of the gun. (Mendoza) walked to the front of the yard, grabbed the throw phone and walked back into the residence. While he was grabbing the phone, (a negotiations officer) was yelling at Christopher not to kill himself,” according to Campillo’s report.
“Negotiations then started with Christopher for over an hour. As negotiations (were) taking place, multiple gunshots were ringing out throughout the neighborhood in order to distract police from the incident and allocate resources to now investigate the multiple shots fired being shot off. During the negotiations, Christopher came out to the backyard, yelled and a gunshot went off. He then went back into the residence,” according to the report.
Shortly after, Mendoza ran through the backyard and was able to escape police again.
Buckeye: The chase ends
After yet another barricade situation in Cashion failed to catch Mendoza, a caller claimed Mendoza was at his brother’s, in Surprise.
But by the time they made it to Surprise, Goodyear officers were hearing reports of shots fired by officers in Buckeye.
Mendoza was downed.
Mendoza later told police he was in Surprise, before someone drove him to a friend’s house in Buckeye.
“While he was out at that residence he said he left on foot and started to walk to end this,” Campillo wrote.
Mendoza vowed to Buckeye officers he would break out of jail, but did not make good on the boast.
On Jan. 6, when Abrazo doctors cleared Mendoza for discharge, Campillo and another detective interviewed Mendoza.
The Goodyear officers then gave Mendoza a ride due east, to the Fourth Avenue Maricopa County Jail.
If he is found guilty, Christopher Mendoza will not be back in Avondale for a long time.