A Tempe cop yelling at bystanders to leave
A Maricopa County sheriff's deputy shot and killed a burglary suspect Thursday along the canal that separates Tempe from Guadalupe.
The Sheriff's Office was assisting Tempe police, who were looking for suspects in a burglary in a nearby neighborhood earlier in the morning.
The man who was shot was identified late Thursday afternoon as Joel Smith, 19. Smith was pronounced dead after he was taken to Maricopa Medical Center for treatment.
Deputy Jeff Sprong, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, said Smith was armed with a knife.
Two women who live nearby in Guadalupe said they heard shots and ran outside to see what was happening. They said Smith appeared unarmed as he walked toward the deputy.
"You could tell he had nothing in his hands," said Sandra Reyes, who was worried that her great-grandchildren would be hit by the gunfire. "It looked like he was trying to surrender."
Sabrina Garcia told a similar version, saying, "He wasn't trying to attack the cops."
But Sprong said the women were mistaken and that the shooting was also witnessed by several Tempe police officers.
"The incident as explained to you by neighbors did not happen," Sprong wrote in an e-mail.
"He did threaten our deputy. Our deputy did shoot that individual," Sprong said. "This deputy obviously felt his life was in danger."
Sprong did not release the deputy's name but described the deputy as a "seasoned veteran," adding, "this isn't something he wanted to do."
The burglary occurred about 9 a.m., less than a mile from the shooting scene, along the South Branch Highline Canal, west of Hardy Drive and Guadalupe Road.