Miguel Rios was inside his father’s house in Wittmann on Thursday night when he heard a burst of gunshots.
His family was having a little get-together when, Rios alleges, a family friend shot and killed:
- His father, 50-year-old Juan Rios.
- His brother, 22-year-old Julio Rios.
- His brother-in-law, 22-year-old Adrane Mirotens.
Miguel Rios rushed to his brother, who was bleeding in the backyard, and performed CPR as his mother hid behind a truck. He moved to his father after he noticed the bullet lodged in his brother’s temple, but his luck was no better.
Neither man had a pulse.
Rios said his sister tended to her husband, but he, too, eventually succumbed to his wounds. Rios believes his brother-in-law might have survived had sheriff’s deputies, troopers and fire crews arrived sooner.
Rios called 911, where he said an operator repeatedly promised him that deputies would be there within five to 10 minutes — promises he says were broken again and again.
It wasn’t until 45 minutes after the shooting that troopers arrived, Rios said. When they did come, they couldn’t explain what took them so long, he said. Wittmann is a community of about 9,500 people located about 15 miles northwest of Surprise.
“This is what I told one of the troopers,” Rios began. “It takes me 15 minutes to get from Bell and Grand all the way to my house. It takes you guys 45 minutes from wherever the f–k you guys came from? It doesn’t add up. It’s not right.”
He said law enforcement showed up to his father’s house only because his brother’s brother-in-law flagged down troopers at the suspect’s house. Rios and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect as Hermelindo Guzman Sanchez.
Rios said he plans to file a formal complaint against the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.
On Friday, DPS deferred questions to the Sheriff’s Office, which refused to comment on Rios’ allegations.
Sgt. Bryant Vanegas, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said all three men were pronounced dead at the scene.
Rios said Sanchez fled the scene immediately after the shooting. Vanegas said law enforcement detained and arrested Sanchez at his home. He later was booked into a Maricopa County jail on three counts of first-degree murder.
Rios said he wasn’t sure what made Sanchez decide to shoot his family. He said Sanchez was enjoying the get-together, left briefly, and returned angry for some unknown reason. Sanchez opened fire soon after, Rios said.
‘Nothing but good people’
Rios, along with 20 to 30 friends and family members, stood outside the crime scene Friday morning as law enforcement conducted its investigation. Rios said the last time he saw his younger brother’s body was on a TV news station.
“My little brother’s all over the news when I can’t even f–king see him,” Rios said.
Rios said all three worked as landscapers.
“They were nothing but good people,” Rios said. “We worked every day. We’d just chill here every day. Everybody knows us.”
Rios said his brother’s death leaves a 7-year-old girl without a father. His brother-in-law had an 11-month-old and another child on the way.
When asked how he and his family will move forward, Rios didn’t have much to say.
“It is what it is, you know?”
Readers can send news tips to azcentral.com via the newspaper’s social media channels, email or by calling the office.
Read or Share this story: https://azc.cc/2MzVg16