Man charged in shootout with police officers

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by Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on August 30, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 30 at 3:37 PM

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PHOENIX – A man who was involved in a shootout with two Phoenix police officers on Aug. 4 is facing several charges, including attempted first-degree murder.

The officers have been identified as Monty Spross, a 17-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department, and Nick Pittatsis, who has been with the force for 14 years.

Police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson said Spross was grazed by a bullet in the head and Pittatsis was shot in his arm. The officers were taken to a local hospital where they were treated and released.

"If you can imagine an inch or two in either direction that either one of these officers' lives could have been taken this morning is scary," Sgt. Trent Crump said.

The shootout happened at approximately 10 a.m. in front of a home near Virginia and 61st avenues.

The incident began in a nearby park when the officers tried to question a man, identified as Michael Ruben Alvarez, who was riding around on his bicycle. Alvarez took off and started shooting at the officers.

Alvarez then broke into a home where a 63-year-old lived and demanded her car keys but did not get them. He went back outside and gunfire was exchanged.

Alvarez was shot several times. He was treated at a local hospital.

The investigation revealed Alvarez struck two vehicles and the home next door while firing at the officers. A woman and her 5-year-old child were inside the home.

Alvarez is facing two counts of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated assault, one count of first-degree burglary, one count of attempted theft-means of transportation and one count of possession of a weapon by a prohibited person.

Police didn't say why the officers wanted to initially talk to the suspect and only said he appeared to be doing something suspicious.

Alvarez has a criminal background. He was released from prison in 2005 according to state records and has served a number of stints behind bars for offenses ranging from aggravated assault to unlawful flight from law enforcement.

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