Phoenix community hoping to rid itself of ‘River Bottom mayhem’

Residents of the southwest Phoenix neighborhood along the River Bottom are fed up with all of the dangerous activity of people gathering to party.
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 5:39 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Shots fired, Houses damaged and a Phoenix community that doesn’t know when they’ll get help or who will provide it. That’s what’s happening near the river bottom in southwestern Phoenix “We actually get fearful of going in our front yards,” Connie Buchanan said.

More often than not, Buchanan and her husband Richard stay inside. But even in their garage behind the main house, it hasn’t been safe. Gunshots have ripped holes across the roof. “That’s the most frequent one,” Richard said. “There’s two, and there’s a third one over there.” Multiple neighbors have a collection of bullets that ricocheted from shots fired below in the river bottom.

“They’re bouncing around my trees next door,” Paul Burch said. Unwanted mementos from large gatherings on the river bottom that have often lasted until close to midnight. “We don’t want to go over there and videotape what’s going on for fear they’ll see us and shoot at us,” Connie said.

When Burch first heard the gunshots, he called the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. He says occasionally, there will be a helicopter fly-over or sheriff deputies will position themselves by the entrance into the river bottom. But more often than not, he says the calls for help have gone unanswered. “I quit calling Maricopa County,” Burch said, “because we get service sometime tomorrow.”

In a statement to Arizona’s Family, an MCSO spokesperson said, “This has been an ongoing issue in that area. MCSO is looking into some options to prevent these gatherings from happening and is meeting with the landowners to discuss possible solutions.”

Arizona’s Family followed up and asked what these options to prevent the gatherings were, and the spokesperson wouldn’t share. Connie says she’s never spoken with MCSO representatives about how to solve this problem. “I’ve called them out and I’ve given them every single bullet that we’ve found,” she said. Their response? “There’s nothing they can do,” she added.

Both the Buchanans and Burch have thought about moving. But this is their home. It’s where their friends are. They just want it to feel safe again. “It gets difficult to run from a bullet,” Burch said. “I just wish the sheriffs could get a handle on this,” Connie added.