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By John Brown
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 16, 1998

SWAT team storms apartment


Katherine K. Gardiner
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Tucson police officers take a man into custody for questioning yesterday after a two-hour stand off with members of the TPD SWAT team. Police first tried to talk to the man after they found his neighbor dead outside the apartment complex at North Euclid Avenue and East Fourth Street.

A police SWAT team stormed a man's UA-area apartment yesterday, ending a two-hour stand off that stemmed from the discovery of his neighbor's body outside the complex earlier that morning.

Tucson police officers responding to reports of gunfire near North Euclid Avenue and East Fourth Street about 3:30 a.m. found the victim lying behind a two-story fourplex in the 800 block of East Fourth Street, Sgt. Eugene Mejia said.

The name of the victim, a white man in his 30s, was not released yesterday pending notification of relatives. Police also refused to disclose the cause of death, although they said it is a homicide.

A UA student and resident of the fourplex, who asked that his name be withheld for his safety, said he was rousted about 3:15 a.m. by several loud thumping noises he initially believed to be a plumbing problem.

"I heard three sonic booms. It shook the whole house," he said. "I woke up and yelled, 'Hey.' I thought someone was in the house."

The student said when he went to the back steps of the apartment and opened the door, he found his neighbor lying in a pool of blood. The man appeared to have been shot in the chest and shoulder, he said.

Officers investigating the homicide spoke to several neighbors of the apartments, but when they tried to interview the man residing in the unit above the victim's, he did not answer his door, Mejia said.

"We knew the apartment was occupied and wanted to check on his welfare and ask him questions about the incident," Mejia said.

SWAT team members began arriving between 9 and 9:30 a.m. and closed Fourth Street between North Euclid and North Tyndall avenues.

Mejia refused to confirm if police believed the man was armed, but said previous visits to the residence on domestic violence calls led officers to believe there were "potential dangers."

"The information we have makes this level of response warranted," Detective Capt. Anthony Daykin said about an hour into the stand off, as 20 camouflaged officers surrounded the two-story apartment. Some perched on the building's roof, while others crouched in position near a stairwell.

About 11:15 a.m., officers discharged a distracting device that makes a large boom, then stormed the apartment. About 15 minutes later, several officers escorted the man to a patrol car and drove him away for questioning, Mejia said.

Daykin said the SWAT raid was related to the homicide investigation, but he did not label the resident as a suspect.

"Right now, we're just talking to him, so you could call him an interviewee," Mejia said. Police yesterday would not release the man's name.

The student, who said he has lived at the apartment about eight months, said the victim and the man police took into custody have had quarrels in the past, and residents view the man police are questioning as eccentric.

"Everybody here knows the guy's a little tweaky. He's been known to run on the roof naked. That's why they call him 'Crazy Eli,'" he said. "He'd walk around in disguises, sometimes as a record promoter or a religious leader."

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