PCSO: Suspect arrested in connection with San Manuel murder

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Stephen Dionne By Andrew Michalscheck Stephen Dionne By Andrew Michalscheck

SAN MANUEL, Ariz. -- A gang member with a lengthy criminal history was located and arrested this week in connection with a murder in San Manuel.

The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office announced on Friday that they apprehended Stephen Dionne, 29, on Thursday at a residence in Tucson.

The PCSO responded to a home in San Manuel on the night of October 27 after a resident called 9-1-1 to report that a man was banging on their door and asking them to call for help.

PCSO homicide detectives arrived to discover Nicholas Angelo Lagunas laying outside the house suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Lagunas was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.

During their investigation, detectives learned that Lagunas had been at Dionne’s home, where the two had gotten into an argument.

Dionne allegedly shot Lagunas during the argument, prompting Lagunas to go running down the street looking for help.

Detectives said Dionne went into hiding following the shooting. On Thursday, detectives and the U.S. Marshal’s Office were able to locate Dionne at a home in Tucson.

Dionne was booked into the Pima County Jail for an outstanding felony probation warrant.

On Friday, detectives submitted paperwork recommending that Dionne be charged with first-degree murder.

Following Dionne’s arrest, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu criticized Pinal County Attorney James Walsh for allowing people like Dionne to be on the streets.

“This case is another example of a tragedy which could have been avoided had County Attorney James Walsh held violent offenders accountable for their crimes. Dionne is known by law enforcement as a documented South Side Gang member who had a history of repetitive violent behavior,” said Babeu. “Walsh and his office have failed to properly prosecute 61 percent of defendants charged with mandatory prison charges, making them the most dangerous people on our streets. Instead, he either releases them on probation or he completely dismisses the cases. This case, unfortunately, is another example to add to that list.”

When asked about Babeu’s comments, Walsh said he wouldn’t discuss an ongoing case. He did, however, say that they don’t take cases such as this lightly, and that they will be reviewing the case to make sure the appropriate charging decisions are made.