Employee killed in shooting at Mesa QuikTrip

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Apolinar Altamirano, 29 By Mike Gertzman Apolinar Altamirano, 29 By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

MESA, Ariz. -- An employee at a QuikTrip convenience store was shot and killed early Thursday morning, according to police.

The QT is located at Stapley Drive and Broadway Road.

The shooting was followed by a high-speed chase for about 25 miles from Mesa to southwest Phoenix as police tried to capture the shooting suspect. They said a witness had flagged them down at the QT.

Apolinar Altamirano, 29, of Mesa, was taken into custody at 19th Avenue and Buckeye Road. He faces charges including first-degree murder, armed robbery, burglary, possession of a weapon by a prohibited possessor and unlawful flight. His bond was set at $1 million.

Police said Altamirano shot the clerk because he didn't think he was getting his cigarettes fast enough.

Altamirano reportedly dumped change on the counter, and the clerk told Altamirano he needed a moment to count the money.

"As the clerk is saying that, our suspect produces a handgun," said Mesa Police Det. Steve Berry. "The clerk, obviously seeing the handgun, does grab a package of cigarettes and hands them directly to the suspect, at which point the suspect just shoots our victim."

Friends identified the clerk as 21-year-old Grant Ronnebeck.

"He was a really good friend to all of us," said Samantha Hansen. "He had such a big heart, I mean, he made people laugh."

Ronnebeck graduated from Mesa High School in 2011 and was a "people person" who got along with everyone. He was in the drama and spirit clubs in high school and had worked for QuikTrip for the last five years.

Friends said he had recently transferred to this QuikTrip from another store and was concerned about working in this neighborhood late at night.

"It's hard to see and to know that it's actually, it's real. ... He's really taken from us and that's hard," Hansen said. "For a couple packs of cigarettes? I mean, it's not right."

Police said Altamirano has a criminal record, including an arrest in 2012 for theft and burglary charges.