U.S. Marshal shoots suspect in rifle theft outside Phoenix grocery store

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
Cosso Juarez, 24 By Mike Gertzman Cosso Juarez, 24 By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Gunfire erupted in the parking lot of a Food City near 48th Street and Southern Avenue in Phoenix Monday evening.

A U.S. deputy marshal shot a man suspected of stealing a rifle from the vehicle of a Pinal County sheriff's deputy on Jan. 22.

According to Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokesman Tim Gaffney, the deputy parked his fully marked patrol vehicle outside of his San Tan Valley home then locked and secured it before going inside. However, he mistakenly failed to remove his department-issued patrol AR15 rifle.

A suspect broke the driver's side window of the vehicle and stole the patrol rifle later that night. A person walking in the area saw the broken glass and called 911 to report the damaged window.

Detectives were able to develop an investigative lead. They worked with members of the U.S. Marshals Service and asked for assistance in locating and arresting Juan Nino, 24.

The U.S. Marshals Service tracked him to Phoenix.

According to the Phoenix Police Department, that suspect and a man they identified as Cosso Juarez were in a Mustang stopped outside a liquor store near the Food City when a deputy U.S. marshal moved in to make an arrest.

With the driver-side door blocked by a law-enforcement vehicle, Nino climbed out of the passenger window, Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said in an email to media outlets.

Shots were fired and Nino was wounded.

"One of the U.S. Marshals officers fired at this particular suspect," Martos said. "He was struck multiple times."

Nino was taken to a local hospital. He injuries reportedly are not life-threatening.

Martos said Nino has an outstanding felony warrant and will be booked once doctors release him. He also said investigators found a weapon at the scene.

Juarez was detained for questioning. Martos said he had drugs and drug paraphernalia in his possession.

At the time of the shooting, the parking lot was filled with shoppers who were startled and frightened when bullets started flying.

"I was trying to get his parking spot," one shopper said. "Then all of a sudden, bam, bam, bam! 'Get out! Get out with your hands up!' The dude was trying to get out."

No police officers or U.S. marshals were hurt.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office has a policy that prohibits members from leaving weapons inside of vehicles when the employee is not on duty. The Professional Standards Unit is conducting an internal investigation into this matter.