Police, FBI seek help in solving murder of Phoenix teen at graduation party

Desiree Rivas, 17, was shot and killed at a graduation party near Tolleson on May 14.
Desiree Rivas, 17, was shot and killed at a graduation party near Tolleson on May 14.(Phoenix Police Dept.)
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 11:55 AM MST|Updated: Jun. 1, 2023 at 12:59 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) On May 14, police say 17-year-old Desiree Rivas was trying to leave a graduation party in a neighborhood near Tolleson when she was shot to death. Now after more than two weeks and no arrests, Phoenix police, the FBI and Rivas’ family are asking for the public’s help in solving her murder.

The shooting happened just after midnight on Mother’s Day near 91st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road, where officers arrived to find Rivas dead. Police believe several people were shooting and that she was caught in the crossfire.

“Desiree was ripped from our lives,” said Desiree’s aunt, Melissa Rivas, during Thursday’s press conference. “Her killer is out there living their life with no remorse. Their reckless actions ... they took our beautiful Desiree.”

Rivas was a cheerleader at Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen Village, and the day after the shooting, more than 50 people showed up for a vigil in her honor. Family members shared stories and memories of Rivas during the press conference while investigators provided an update on the case. “Desiree is just the type of person that would think of others before thinking of herself,” said Desiree’s mother Vanessa Gonzales. “She would give the best Mother’s Day messages to me ... I’m never going to get that again.”

The FBI is providing an additional $10,000 in reward money, meaning anyone with information leading to an arrest could be eligible for a reward of up to $12,000. “While we know it will never end the heartbreak you are feeling,” said Phillips Bates, assistant special agent in charge for the FBI field office in Phoenix. “Finding the guilty party will help bring some closure to everyone involved.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Phoenix police or to remain anonymous, call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (948-6377) or 480-TESTIGO (837-8446) for Spanish speakers. Tips can also be provided online here.

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