Police questioning 2 in Avondale murder

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – After a weekend of searching, Avondale police took two people who were connected to a homicide into custody Monday morning.

According to Officer Ruben Gonzales of the Avondale Police Department, the homicide happened early Friday morning in the Cashion neighborhood in the area of 112th Avenue and Buckeye Road.

Russell Lewis, 25, was found shot to death shortly after midnight. Investigators said there were two people of interest in the case – a man and a woman. Police were calling the pair investigative leads during the early stages of the investigation.

Gonzales said the two, later identified as Paul Walton, 24, and Olivia Mendoza, 32, were located Monday morning in the area of 107th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road.

Officers tried to stop them but they fled.

After a short high-speed pursuit into Phoenix and then back into a non-residential area of Avondale, the suspects’ vehicle crashed into a low wall. While there were times when the suspects’ vehicle reportedly was going 100 mph, Gonzales said the public was never in danger. He said officers backed off the chase when the suspects drove through neighborhoods, picking them back up on 107th Avenue.

Both Walton and Mendoza were taken into custody at the crash scene.

The vehicle the suspects were driving is suspected to be an unreported stolen vehicle and is still under investigation.

Walton and Mendoza were interviewed regarding their involvement in the case and remain in custody in connection with the crime.

Walton is going to face one count of second degree murder, felony flight, tampering with evidence and prohibited possession of a firearm.

Mendoza will be booked on one count of misconduct involving weapons and unlawful use of means of transportation.