Police ID man accused of shooting limo driver to avoid paying bill

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Zhair Zamora Sepulveda (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Zhair Zamora Sepulveda (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

Police on Monday identified the man they say shot a limo driver early Sunday morning to get out of paying his bill.

It happened around 1 a.m. Sunday near 69th Avenue and Van Buren Street.

Phoenix police say the suspect, 29-year-old Zhair Zamora Sepulveda, and his girlfriend had hired a limo for Saturday night and when the evening ended he refused to pay for the time that went beyond the original contract. 

"The victim, the driver of the limousine, had reminded the suspect that their contract was good through midnight and he would be required to pay extra for any time beyond that," explained Sgt. Alan Pfohl of the Phoenix Police Department.

The limo arrived back at the girlfriend's home just before 1 a.m., nearly an hour beyond the time stated in the contract.

"[T]he driver again told the suspect he was owed additional monies," according to Pfohl.

Police say that's when Sepulveda "went into the house and then returned to the front yard holding a handgun."  

"The suspect fired multiple rounds in a downward direction toward the victim," Pfohl said. "The victim was struck in the leg by two of those rounds."

Sepulveda was still holding the .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun when police arrived on the scene. Police took him into custody without incident and booked him on suspicion of aggravated assault and misconduct involving weapons.

According to the arresting officer's probable cause statement, Sepulveda "stated he discharged the handgun into the ground during the confrontation, as a warning to the victim.

"Zhair claimed he felt threatened although he admitted the victim did not threaten him or assault him," the statement reads.

The victim, a 43-year-old man, was taken to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

Police determined that Sepulveda "is a previously deported felon and illegally in the United States." He told officers he was first brought to the U.S. when he was about 5 years old.

Further records searches by officers linked Sepulveda to a shooting from February 2013, to which he reportedly admitted although he claimed it was self-defense. The gun in that case -- a .40-caliber weapon different from the gun he had Sunday morning -- popped in another shooting from 2011 that happened outside Sepulveda's home. He denied involvement in that incident.

Sepulveda did not say anything beyond his name and birthdate at his initial court appearance Monday during which bond was set at $100,000 and his next court date -- a status conference on May 22 -- was scheduled. A preliminary hearing is slated for May 24.

[WATCH: Zhair Zamora Sepulveda's initial court appearance]

If Sepulveda posts bond, he would likely be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to be held on an immigration detainer.

"An immigration detainer is a tool used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials when the agency identifies potentially deportable individuals who are held in jails or prisons nationwide," according to the American Immigration Council. "Detainers are only requests made by ICE; compliance is voluntary. ... Further, detainers do not initiate deportation proceedings and do not signify whether or not a person will be deported."

[PDF: Zhair Zamora Sepulveda's court papaerwork]

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