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Former CG woman's death leads police to suspects
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CASA GRANDE — The death of a former Casa Grande resident may have led police to the suspects who allegedly killed her and ended a two-month crime spree by a couple of Valley teens.

Chandler Police believe that Amber Patton, 34, was killed in her Chandler home by James F. Quintero and Corbin M. McNeil, both 16. The two teens are charged with murder, aggravated assault, armed robbery, kidnapping, car theft and unlawful discharge of a firearm. The two have been charged as adults.

Tempe Police  

Corbin M. McNeil and James F. Quintero

Amber, an Iraq War veteran, had grown up in Casa Grande and graduated Casa Grande Union High School with honors in 2004 and attended Central Arizona College before leaving to join the U.S. Army in 2008, said her mother, Marilyn Suchla, who still lives in Casa Grande. Amber moved back to Arizona after leaving the U.S. Army in 2011 and moved to Chandler about two years ago.

“She was a hero like no other,” Suchla said.

Police told her that it was evidence from the crime scene surrounding Amber’s death that led to the arrest of the two teens who had been involved in a crime spree that started sometime in July, Suchla said.

The teens were also allegedly involved in several shootings, a kidnapping, carjackings, robberies and the death of Matthew Meisner, 28. Meisner was shot and killed while out for a late night walk in July 2020 in Tempe.

Officers told Suchla that on Sept. 19, Amber had dropped a coworker off at home after work, picked up some food for dinner and had just arrived at her home in Chandler when the two teens allegedly surprised her in the garage.

Officers believe the teens were after her car. The teens had allegedly stolen some beer from a nearby convenience store and then wrecked the stolen car they were driving near Amber’s home. They probably saw Amber pull up to her home and allegedly decided to take her vehicle, Suchla said.

“They wanted the keys to her car,” Suchla said. “She was such a kind, giving person. She would have given them the keys if they had asked. They didn’t have to kill her.”

After surprising her in the garage, the teens allegedly shot Amber several times before taking her phone, wallet and car. The teens later allegedly rolled Amber’s car near Florence. A roommate found Amber the next morning and called the police.

Suchla said officers told her that without Amber’s death, officers wouldn’t have connected the teens to the stolen beer and the surveillance video at the store.

Suchla said if the teens hadn’t surprised Amber, she was sure that her daughter could have fought them off.

“She was strong,” her mother said. Amber would sometimes challenge her mom, who is also a military veteran and keeps herself in good shape, to a series of physical training competitions.

Amber was also a very kind person, her mother said.

“She was very outgoing, very loving. She would have given someone the shirt off her back,” Suchla said. “She loved Batman. She loved wolves and the Green Bay Packers and soccer.”

Amber started playing soccer in the first grade and played on the varsity team at Casa Grande Union High School. After high school, she played on one of the city’s adult teams.

Amber loved animals and was forever trying to adopt strays that she found on the street, her mother said.

And she loved her family, Suchla said. Amber and her little sister, who is several years younger than her, adored each other. When she left for the Army, Amber got her little sister’s name tattooed on her arm.

Amber also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a close friend that she was serving with in Iraq was killed nearly in front of her, Suchla said. Amber left the military in 2011 and moved back to Arizona. She wanted to stay in the Army, but she knew if she did she would be deployed to Afghanistan sometime in the next six months and she didn’t think she could handle another deployment after such a brief break from combat duty, her mother said.

“She took a great deal of pride in serving her country,” Suchla said. Amber received several awards for her service while she was enlisted.

She joined the military after Sept. 11. Suchla said when Amber mentioned the idea of joining the military after the attacks on 9/11, she thought Amber was nuts, but she wasn’t surprised by her decision. Their family has a long history of military service. Amber’s aunt, who had a great influence on her, served as a nurse in the Air Force.

Suchla said it took a lot of courage for her daughter to join the military at that moment in time, especially knowing what was going on in some of the countries that she might be deployed to.

Amber was also smart, feisty and funny, her mother said.

One of Amber’s greatest wishes was to meet her older brother, who had been given up for adoption in 1980 in New York state, Suchla said. Amber and the family have been looking for him, but the laws governing adoption records in New York have made the search difficult. Friends can join in the search on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/2649768301905060. The family does plan to have a memorial for Amber, once the pandemic settles down enough to allow family members from other states to travel. The family has set up a GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/f/a-hero-like-no-other for donations to help some family members who may not have the money to make the trip.

In the meantime, Suchla is making it her mission to warn others about what happened to Amber and remind people to check their surroundings before getting out of their car and closing the garage door.

“I want to be an advocate for her,” Suchla said. “I don’t want this to happen to another family.”

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Eloy Fire rescues paratrooper dangling from high-voltage lines
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ELOY — The Eloy Fire District was faced with an extremely dangerous and tricky rescue Friday morning after a military paratrooper became entangled in some high-voltage transmission lines.

The troopers were on a training mission, jumping into the Sawtooth Airport south of Arizona City around 4 a.m. when the man’s parachute became entangled in a series of high-tension, high-voltage transmission lines, said Eloy Fire District spokesman Robert Maestas.

The district had to coordinate with Salt River Project, Electrical District 4 and the U.S. Department of Energy before they could launch a rescue mission. The lines are owned by the Western Area Power Administration, which is run by the Department of Energy.

“These lines carry an incredible amount of energy,” Maestas said.

Eloy Fire rescues paratrooper 2/19/21

Maestas said rescuers and the paratrooper had to wait about three or four hours to make sure that the lines were fully de-energized before making a rescue attempt.

The district was then able to extend the 100-foot ladder on its ladder truck to reach the man and with the help of a bucket truck from SRP, rescuers were able to reach the paratrooper, Maestas said.

The parachute’s lines had to be carefully disentangled from the lines. If the chute’s lines were cut or rapidly released it would have created a slingshot effect because of how much tension the power lines are under.

Rescue crews were able to free the man by 8:30 a.m. and he was flown to a Level 1 trauma center in Phoenix as a precaution.

The military branch of the paratrooper was not available, but U.S. Army and Marine Corps, as well as foreign troops, regularly train in Pinal County.

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Finchem ethics complaint against Democrats dismissed
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PHOENIX — The chair of the House Ethics Committee won’t pursue a complaint by Rep. Mark Finchem against Democrat lawmakers.

Rep. Becky Nutt, R-Clifton, on Friday pointed out how she had dismissed 82 complaints that had been filed against the Oro Valley Republican, concluding there was nothing there that merited further examination. They all had raised allegations about his activities leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and what he did there that day.

Finchem responded with his own complaint earlier this week, saying the Democrats acted improperly in a separate move where they had asked the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate him.

Nutt, in a letter to Finchem, said that his complaint suffers from the same shortcomings at the ones leveled against him.

“The ethics committee is not an arena for waging political contests,’’ she wrote. “That is true whether the subject of a complaint are individuals Republicans (as before) or nearly the entire Democratic caucus (as here).’’

Nutt was careful to say that she was reaching no conclusion on Finchem’s contention that the Democrats, in seeking a federal inquiry, had violated federal laws about public officials making false statements.

“The ethics committee also is not a court of law,’’ she told Finchem.

“So, while I express no view on the legal merits of Rep. Finchem’s claims, I also conclude that the ethics committee should take no action.’’

Nutt’s decision does not entirely end the matter.

Finchem filed the same complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against the 14 Democrats in that chamber who signed the same request to the FBI and Department of Justice for an investigation. Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, who chairs that panel, is not expected to respond until this coming week.

But the Senate has slightly different rules. Even if Kerr were to decide not to pursue the matter, she could be overruled if three of the five members of the committee — made up of three Republicans and two Democrats — vote to pursue it.

Finchem did not immediately respond to a request for comment.