One suspect is dead and another is in critical condition, police said. (Source: KPHO-TV)
Jose Chacon (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -
A Phoenix man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder after a burglary attempt resulted in the shooting death of his getaway driver.
Maricopa County prosecutors said Adrian De La Cruz, 29, entered his plea Wednesday.
Police said the shooting on March 30, 2013, involved an off-duty police officer outside a northwest Phoenix night club and left the suspect driver, 24-year-old Tomas G. Ramirez Gonzalez dead. De La Cruz was wounded. No one else was hurt.
Another suspect, Jose Chacon, 19, was booked into jail after police said he admitted to shooting a rifle during the incident. He faces a charge of first-degree murder during the commission of a crime.
Two Phoenix police officers were working off-duty as security at Hurricane Bay in the area of 4100 W. Bell Rd. One of the officers left at about 2 a.m. after the business closed. The second officer, Gary Schonfelder, stayed to provide security for the remaining two employees.
Shortly after 4 a.m., the manager and an employee left the club with Schonfelder, who is a 20-year veteran with the department. The officer had removed his uniform shirt and was wearing a black T-shirt, uniform pants and boots, according to Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
They saw two suspects in the bed of the officer's pickup truck trying to remove a small refrigerator that Schonfelder had purchased from the bar manager, Thompson said. The truck was parked near the front door. The two suspects fled to a SUV, which was parked a short distance from the pickup truck, and climbed in, Thompson said.
Schonfelder and the two employees of the night club ran toward the vehicle, where they saw two suspects on the passenger side and the driver pointing guns at them, Thompson said.
Schonfelder, who was armed with his service handgun, gave several commands for them to drop their weapons and identified himself as a police officer, Thompson said.
The car started to back up and the suspects continued to point their weapons at Schonfelder and night club employees. As a result of the imminent deadly threat to himself and the other two men, Schonfelder fired multiple rounds at the suspects, Thompson said.
Hearing the gunfire, bar employee Fidencio Martinez, who also had a handgun, fired at the suspects, Thompson said. The manager, who was unarmed, called 911.
Gonzalez placed the vehicle in park, got out and collapsed a short distance from the vehicle. Schonfelder ordered the other two suspects of the vehicle to get out and get on the ground, Thompson said. They complied and responding officers assisted with taking the suspects into custody.
During a police interview, Chacon said Gonzalez had asked him and his brother, De La Cruz, to go with him to the bar to confront a person who owed him money. They had planned to drive the person to an ATM to get the cash, Chacon told police.
While waiting for the person to emerge from the bar, Chacon said they noticed Schonfelder and Martinez loading the refrigerator in the truck. Chacon said Gonzalez then decided to steal the refrigerator, which ultimately led to the shooting.
Stay with cbs5az.com for updates on this developing story.
Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.