Gilbert officer gunned down, suspects lead police on 50-mile chase

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By Alicia Barron By Alicia Barron
A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland
A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland
A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland
A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland A veteran lieutenant with the Gilbert Police Department is dead, gunned down during a routine traffic stop that sparked a high-speed chase that went on for 50 miles. By Catherine Holland

GILBERT -- Police have identified the suspects in Thursday night's murder of a veteran Gilbert police lieutenant and then leading dozens officers on a 50-mile chase.

According to investigators, Christopher Redondo (right in the photo above) was the shooter and Daimen Irizarry was the driver.

It all started at about 10:40 p.m. when Lt. Eric Shuhandler stopped Irizarry and Redondo in a truck in the parking lot of the Fry's and Taco Bell at Val Vista and Baseline Road, which is near the Mesa-Gilbert border. Shuhandler stopped the truck because its license plate was obstructed.

Shuhandler discovered that Redondo, who was in the passenger seat of the truck, had a possible warrant.

About 12 minutes into that stop, Shuhandler approached the truck's passenger side. Investigators believe that's when Redondo shot him in the head.

Shuhandler, who was a 16-year veteran of the department, was rushed to Maricopa Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

Two Mesa officers were nearby at the time and heard the shot. They rushed over to help, calling for backup to locate the suspects, who had already fled the scene.

A short time later, a Gilbert officer spotted Irizarry and Redondo in the area of Higley and Baseline roads. That's when the chase began.

That high-speed pursuit went on for about 50 miles eastbound on the U.S. 60, all the way to Top of the World just east of Superior. During the chase, the suspects were doing whatever they could to get away.

"They were throwing stuff out of the vehicle. They were also shooting at the officers," Sgt. Mark Marino of the Gilbert Police Department. "They actually ended up disabling officers' vehicles from our agency and Mesa Police Department."

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Fox 1 helicopter, Mesa Police Department's Falcon helicopter and the Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter out of Tucson all provided air support for the chase, which involved dozens officers.

Marilyn White, who owns the Buckboard City Cafe in Superior, saw part of that massive pursuit.

"I counted 95 vehicles, with flashing lights and sirens, going by the house," White said.

"The scene was definitely easy to follow from the air because there were numerous emergency lights that trailed all the way eastbound on 60," said MCSO Dep. Josh Johnson.

Investigators later said there were between 40 and 50 vehicles involved, five of which were disabled by items, an air compressor among them, that Irizarry and Redondo threw from the truck.

The chase finally came to an end near the Superior town limit.

"They stopped basically in the middle of the road," said DPS Lt. Steve Harrison. "We don't know if they stopped to engage in a gunfight. ... Obviously, they weren't going to give up because they came out shooting. We really don't know why they stopped or why they stopped where they stopped."

The suspects jumped out of their truck and fired at officers and deputies on the ground. Those officers and deputies returned fire.

Both of the suspects were wounded, but the exact nature of those injuries was not immediately available. Irizarry, 30, and Redondo, 35, were both taken to Valley hospitals. One was transported by ground ambulance, the other by the DPS helicopter. At last check, both were in stable condition, Harrison said. Few other details about the suspects have been released.

While several vehicles were damaged, no officers were injured during the pursuit and subsequent shootout.

Shuhandler, who became well known throughout the country when he handled information about the DUI arrest of former NBA great Charles Barkley, is the second Arizona law-enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in a little more than a month.

A memorial account has been set up in Shuhandler's name at Wells Fargo. That account number is 1359531975.

Shuhandler is survived by his ex-wife and two daughters, ages 10 and 12, as well as his sisters and parents.

Condolences for the Shuhandler family may be sent to the Gilbert Police Department, care of Shuhandler Family, 75 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert AZ, 85296.

The incident with its massive crime scene is under investigation.

"There's evidence along the road and strewn along the entire distance," said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. "That's where we have to be very deliberate in gathering all that data and try to be as dispassionate as we can."

DPS is heading up the investigation, coordinating the multiple jurisdictions and agencies involved.

U.S. 60 between Superior and Globe were still shut down several hours later. That closure could remain in place all day. In addition, schools in Superior are closed because no traffic can get through due to the investigation.

With U.S. 60 closed, eastbound traffic heading to Globe is detoured south on S.R. 177 from Superior to northbound S.R. 77 at Winkelman to reach Globe.

Drivers in the Valley heading to Globe also have the option of using northbound S.R. 87 to southeast-bound S.R. 188.