Police question man wanted in deadly police shooting, accounts established for officers

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Officer Rolando Tirado By Alicia Barron Officer Rolando Tirado By Alicia Barron
Officer Christopher Paz By Alicia Barron Officer Christopher Paz By Alicia Barron

PHOENIX -- Phoenix police investigators say they have found and interviewed a man wanted in connection with a weekend shooting that left one Buckeye police officer dead and a second in critical condition.

Wells Fargo accounts for Officer Rolando Tirado and Officer Christopher Paz

Tirado Memorial Fund

Paz Recovery Fund

Donations can be made at any Wells Fargo location.

No other details were immediately available.

The investigation is ongoing.

Police officer killed, another critical after Phoenix shootout

PHOENIX -- The Buckeye Police Department is mourning the loss of one of its own while praying for the recovery of another officer who is fighting for his life. It's the result of a shootout that happened early Sunday morning at a concert at the El Gran Mercado Swap Meet near Buckeye Road and 35th Avenue in Phoenix, and one suspect is still on the loose.

Buckeye police say 11-year veteran officer Rolando Tirado was killed. He spent seven years with the Buckeye Police Department. He was married with two children.

Officer Christopher Paz, who has been with Buckeye police for nearly five years, is in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds. His condition reportedly was improving Monday morning. He is expected to survive.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department told 3TV Tirado and Paz were off duty at the time, doing outside security jobs at a concert. It's a common practice for law-enforcement officers to take on sideline security jobs to supplement their incomes.

At about 1:30 a.m. Sunday, Tirado and Paz, both of whom were in full uniform, tried to stop a Chevy Tahoe that was driving erratically in the parking lot. Because the Tahoe had darkly tinted windows, it's not clear if the officers, who were in separate security pickup trucks, could see inside.

That traffic stop turned into a confrontation that led to a shootout between one of the officers and one of the suspects.

"As Officer Tirado was contacting the driver, the passenger in the front seat ... got out of the front passenger seat, walked around behind his vehicle, and then executed Officer Tirado, shooting him from behind," Thompson said Monday morning. "He never knew what was coming."

According to the Phoenix Police Department, that shooter has been identified as Cesar Tomas Quiroz Leon.

Paz shot and killed Leon in the ensuing gun battle after Tirado went down, but not before he had been shot several times himself.

Not much is known about Leon, 27, other than that he reportedly had an extensive criminal history in California.

A second suspect, the 23-year-old driver of the Tahoe, was wounded as he got out of his vehicle. That man is in critical condition.

Detectives have not released any other details about either suspect, including the wounded man's name.

Investigators believe a third suspect was involved in the altercation and shooting. Detectives were interviewing several other people whom they consider "persons of interest," as well as witnesses to the shooting.

While police initially did not have a good description of the third suspect, they now say he is a clean-shaven Hispanic male between 20 and 25 years old, about 5 feet 6 or 7 inches tall, weighing about 160 to 170 pounds. He was wearing dark clothes and a dark brown shirt. That man fled the scene on foot. He was last seen heading north.

If you have any information about that third suspect, you are asked to call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6141 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (480-TESTIGO for Spanish speakers).

Detectives are trying to piece together the events that sparked the initial confrontation and subsequent gun battle. It's not know why Leon got out of the vehicle in the first place.

"When someone is willing to shoot a police officer, they're certainly willing to shoot anybody in the community," Thompson said. "Those are the kinds of people we want off our streets."

The El Gran Mercado Swap Meet is an open-air venue that lends itself to large gatherings like concerts and dances and is known for its weekend club-style music events, which can get rowdy, especially when the crowd has been drinking.

"It gets real rough," said Phoenix resident Gabriel Mada, who has been to the El Gan Mercado club events. "They'll bust your window and run, or they'll shoot you in the face."

Mada said it does not take much to start a fight -- or worse.

A woman who wanted to remain anonymous said she had been to the El Gran Mercado club nights twice. According to her, many patrons are usually drunk and beer is frequently sold to underage customers. She said men often get rough with the women who go there to dance.

"Sometimes they grab you," she said. "They ask you how much money you're worth, if you would to spend the night with them -- stuff like that."

The young woman told 3TV it's so scary, she'll never go back.

"No way," she said.

According to a source who has worked at El Gran Mercado Swap Meet, there are metal detectors at the entrance. Sunday morning's shootout, however, took place in the parking lot, away from the dance area.

While 3TV did try to talk to the owner of El Gran Mercado Swap Meet, he refused to go on camera and ordered the crew off the property.