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Community rallies around family who lost home due to arson

CASA GRANDE — Area residents are rallying around a family of five who lost their home in an apparent arson-caused fire Sunday afternoon.

Joseph Compton, 35, was arrested and charged with suspicion of arson of an occupied structure.

“There are still a lot of moving parts with this case,” said Michael Wobser, fire marshal and public information officer for the Casa Grande Fire Department.

Joseph Compton

The fire was reported at about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at Pueblo Drive and Sixth Street.

Shortly before the fire was reported, Compton reportedly was at the residence and had an argument with his mother, who lived in the mobile home with four children, Wobser said.

“Apparently there was a disagreement, he left and then the fire was reported,” Wobser said.

A 3-year-old child was asleep in the back bedroom of the structure when the fire began.

All occupants escaped the fire unharmed, but the 3-year-old was treated for smoke inhalation, according to Wobser.

The mobile home is a complete loss.

Wobser said more details about the incident would be released later.

Family displaced by fire in CG 6/7/20

Monday morning, area residents and organizations were reaching out to help the family.

“We’re coming together as a community to help the family,” said Andy Salazar, of Caring Hands of Pinal County, who was collecting clothing, food, hygiene supplies and other items. “So far, too many people to count have come forward wanting to help.”

Hoping to raise $500 for the family, area resident Gabby Compton started a Go Fund Me campaign.

“I’ve decided to create this account on the behalf of my aunt Jerlene Manuel and family. On 06/07/2020 in the city of Casa Grande, AZ they lost everything they owned in a house fire,” Compton wrote on the Go Fund Me page.

Joan Shepel, a Mission Valley resident, was so moved by the scene of the fire that she felt compelled to help the family. She doesn’t know the family, but Monday morning, she was gathering groceries for them.

“We drove by the fire, and it’s just heartbreaking. Just talking about it, I feel very emotional,” Shepel said. “I want to do whatever I can to help.”

At Precise Motor Vehicle Service, a collection box has been set up for people to drop off clothing, food, toys, hygiene supplies or other items for the family. Precise Motor Vehicle Service is at 241 W. Cottonwood Lane, Suite 136.

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Video: CG protesters march, kneel on Florence Boulevard

CASA GRANDE — A Saturday night demonstration ended with dozens of protesters kneeling in the intersection of Florence Boulevard and Cameron Avenue, in front of City Hall, chanting for peace, racial equality and an end to police brutality nationwide.

The group knelt in the intersection following a walk through Casa Grande that took them from City Hall to Pinal Avenue, then Cottonwood Lane and back to City Hall via Casa Grande Avenue.

Throughout the walk, the group carried signs and chanted various Black Lives Matter slogans such as “No Justice, No Peace” and “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

Casa Grande Protest Saturday 6/6/20

Saturday night’s demonstration began as two groups — one led by Jon Roberts that met in Peart Park and another organized by Casa Grande resident Jay “Mula” Livingston that was stationed in front of City Hall.

Roberts’ group marched from Peart Park to City Hall to join Livingston’s group.

Both Roberts and his father, Tad Roberts, addressed the combined groups, encouraging individuals to make their voices heard by voting.

“If you don’t vote, all this is useless,” Tad Roberts said. “If you want change, you put people out of office.”

Saturday’s demonstration attracted people of all ages including retirees, young adults, teens and families with children.

Five-year-old Micah Costales of Casa Grande was offering lemonade, fruit punch or water for donations at the event along with his cousins, Ayden and Aric Costales, both 11.

Gabrielle Costales, the mother of Ayden and Aric, said all three boys are aware of the George Floyd killing and wanted be a part of the demonstration.

“They’re out here standing up for something,” she said. “It’s a great experience for them.”

Saturday marked the fifth day of protesting in Casa Grande. Livingston’s group has been protesting peacefully in front of City Hall from 6 to 8 every evening since Tuesday.

As Saturday’s event came to a close, Casa Grande resident Seprina Packard, who attended the protests each of the five nights, said she planned to continue working for change.

“I think these protests have convinced me to try to organize something that brings the community together for our youth, black-owned businesses and people who need help with financial literacy, buying real estate, starting a business and other things,” she said. “The protests have drawn attention to the issues in our community, and I hope we can continue to come together to solve these problems.”

Ducey lifts Arizona curfew

PHOENIX — Arizonans are now free to stay out all night if they want without fear of arrest.

In a series of tweets Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey announced he was not going to renew the 8 p.m. curfew he had imposed on May 31 following some rioting and looting at Scottsdale Fashion Square. Since that time there have not been major problems.

“I want to thank both the peaceful protesters and law enforcement professionals for their cooperation during Arizona’s statewide curfew,’’ Ducey wrote. “Arizona has avoided much of the violence we’ve seen in other states and large metro areas.’’

Arizona has been the only place with a statewide curfew.

Repeated efforts to speak with Ducey have gone unanswered. That leaves only his Twitter messages.

“I’m also thankful to all Arizonans for their patience during this time,’’ the governor wrote.

“Our state and nation are facing multiple challenges, and I’m very appreciative for how the citizens and leaders of our state are conducting themselves during this historic moment,’’ Ducey continued.

But the governor also suggested that abolition of the curfew did not mean things were necessarily going back to the way they were before.

“With the curfew expiring, Arizona DPS will remain vigilant, working with local law enforcement leaders to ensure that they have the tools necessary to keep our streets safe and protect the rights of all residents to make their voices heard,’’ Ducey said.

But gubernatorial press aide Patrick Ptak said that the National Guard soldiers whom Ducey called out when he imposed his curfew are not standing down.

“The declaration of emergency is still in effect,’’ he said.

“It’s just the curfew that has expired,’’ Ptak continued. “And the Guard remains authorized to support local law enforcement.’’

He had no immediate figures of how many soldiers are deployed. But as of last Thursday, Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire said he had 1,421 troops activated for law enforcement support.

That is on top of the 860 who already had been deployed to help Arizona deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, performing duties ranging from helping provide supplies to stores during the shortages that emerged when the outbreak began to setting up field hospitals and delivering medical supplies to the Navajo Nation.

Ptak also had no immediate cost figures for deployment of soldiers for law enforcement or how the state intends to pay, saying there may be a way to tap funds the governor made available when he issued his emergency declaration.

But, on the subject of a curfew, he echoed the governor’s sentiment that it was no longer necessary.

“We’ve had roughly eight days now of peaceful demonstrations,’’ Ptak said.

“The curfew was put in place after we saw the incidents last week in Scottsdale that involved looting and rioting,’’ he said. “It was meant as a tool for local law enforcement to be able to use, as needed, to prevent that type of looting and rioting.’’

And Ptak said it was the right call.

“We just haven’t seen those situations which other states have seen,’’ he said.