Queen Creek teen murdered in shotgun altercation

Posted: Updated:

QUEEN CREEK - The following update is a prsss release from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office:

Three arrests have been made

Pinal County Sheriff's Office detectives have arrested three suspects in relation to yesterday's (08-17-08) Cambria shooting. At approximately 3 p.m. yesterday, detectives arrested Thais "Lamar" Cooper age 20, of Queen Creek, Johnny Lee Cooks age 21, of Queen Creek, and a 17 year old Queen Creek male juvenile in relation to the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old Queen Creek High School student in the early morning of Aug. 17.

At about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 17, the Pinal County Sheriff's Office received several 9-1-1 calls in reference to multiple shots fired and a subject laying face down next to the street off of Altadonna near Cambria in the Cambria neighborhood, east of the Town of Queen Creek. The victim, Anibal Mendoza was pronounced deceased on scene from a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The victim was part of a group who allegedly had ongoing issues with another group.

On the morning of the shooting, the two groups confronted each other at a park in Cambria. The altercation was initiated by a shotgun shot from a male juvenile member of a group of approximately five-people, toward a group of approximately nine people. No major injuries resulted from the shotgun shot.

After the initial confrontation, the five-person group left the park and drove to a nearby side street in Cambria. The victim and another member of the nine-person group followed to confront the group on the side street. After another altercation, Cooper allegedly shot the victim and Cooks shot at the other member of the victim's group as he drove away. Alcohol could have been a factor.

Cooper faces felony charges of murder in the first degree, conspiracy and child abuse. Cooks faces felony charges of endangerment and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and the 17 year old juvenile faces aggravated assault charges.

Victim's next of kin have been notified and the his body was transported to the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office.


Family members say three arrests were made in connection to the shooting death of a Queen Creek teenager early Sunday morning.

Neighbors heard gunshots around 3 a.m. Sunday morning. They found a 17-year-old on the ground and tried CPR but he never regained consciousness.

Early Sunday morning 911 calls from a Queen Creek neighborhood came pouring into the Pinal County Sheriff's Office. Deputies arrived to find Anibal Mendoza dead at the scene.

The 17-year-old's friends went to pay respects at the crime scene Sunday. Anibal's girlfriend set a candle on the spot where he died.

Witnesses say a group was driving around the neighborhood pelting people with a BB gun. Anibal reportedly confronted them and was shot and killed with a more powerful gun.

His friends walked away from the scene still in shock. One friend told 3TV, "You just have to think about the good times with Anibal. He was a good person."

Anibal's girlfriend told 3TV he was supposed to start his senior year at Coolidge High School on Monday.