PHOENIX – A detention officer with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office was shot and killed in his driveway early Thursday morning, and the suspect is still on the loose.
It happened at about 4 a.m. in the neighborhood northeast of 91st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road.
MCSO Sgt. Brandon Jones confirmed that the victim, 27-year-old Jorge Vargas, died at a local hospital.
"We have lost an employee of the office," Jones said.
Jones said MCSO was working "hand in hand" with the Phoenix Police Department to determine exactly what happened and find the shooter.
"Anything they need, the Sheriff's Office is out here to assist them," he said.
"We've shared everything that we have with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office," Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump said.
Aerial video from Chopper 3 showed a pickup truck in the driveway of the home where the shooting occurred. The hood was up and the driver-side door was open. The victim was found on the ground beside that truck. He reportedly was wearing a partial uniform. Police believe he might have been working on his car, getting ready to go to work.
When officers arrived, they immediately set up a large perimeter and launched a search for the shooter. They stopped several vehicles and questioned a number of people. At this point, the suspect is still on the loose.
There are no indications at this point that it is related to [the victim's job]. I want to stress that.
- Sgt. Trent Crump
Phoenix Police Dept.
Police do not have much to go on right now. All witnesses were able to tell police is that several shots were fired. About the same time, a Hispanic man in his 20s wearing a white T-shirt and black shorts was seen running from the area, heading south.
"That is really the only suspect information we have at this point," Crump said.
Investigators have not determined if this was a random incident or if the unidentified victim might have been targeted. Police will try to determine if the shooting might have been connected in some manner to the victim's position with MCSO.
"At this point, we do not know the motive," Crump said, making it clear that the investigation is just beginning. "There are no indications at this point that it is related to [the victim's job]. I want to stress that. We don't know the motive here."
While several people were questioned during the sweep of the neighborhood, officers did not take anybody into custody.
"There is no one that is under arrest or being held in connection with this shooting," he continued.
Crump said there's nothing to indicate that the shooter is still in the neighborhood.
Victim in partial uniform when police say he was working on car in driveway and neighbors reported they heard several gunshots— Jill Galus (@JillGalus) August 8, 2013
Elise Contento (right), who lives in the neighborhood and is generally up early, told 3TV that disturbances are not uncommon. She said she was asleep and heard the gunfire over the sound of her fans.
"I heard three gunshots," Contento said. "When I came out the front door, I heard a bunch of dogs barking .... I knew something had happened. ... [I thought] here we go again."
With a gunman on the loose, area residents are concerned. Crump said they're right to be.
"I would agree with them," he said. "We have a detention officer ... who was shot and killed in his driveway. Until we can determine or help figure out what a motive is in this case, we should all be concerned about it," he said.
Crump said nobody else was inside the home at the time of the shooting.
Vargas was married and had a 5-year-old son.