17-year-old suspect in Phoenix 'ambush' facing charges as an adult, including attempted murder of trooper

Brooke Newman and Katelyn Keenehan Arizona RepublicPublished 9:30 AM EDT Sep 23, 2020A 17-year-old arrested af

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A 17-year-old arrested after officials said he fired at an Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper on Sept. 17 will be tried as an adult. He is facing at least three charges, including attempted first-degree murder of an officer.

Luis German Espinoza Acuna, 17, has been identified as the shooter by authorities. He was arrested and his weapon was recovered from the scene, DPS Director Heston Silbert said in a news conference last week. 

The shooting happened just before 9 a.m. Sept. 17 near 37th Avenue and Portland Street in Phoenix. A DPS trooper was in the area to serve a warrant and was sitting in an unmarked vehicle when a driver in a silver Infinti pulled up.

As the trooper got out of his vehicle wearing a vest labeling him as police, Acuna hopped out of the Infiniti and shot at the trooper using an AK-47 pistol with an extended magazine, according to DPS. At least two shots were fired into the location where the trooper had been sitting, DPS said.

"Completely, unexpectedly he was ambushed," Silbert said.

The driver of the Infiniti drove away, leaving Acuna, who dropped the gun and was taken into custody shortly after the ambush. A Blue Alert was issued for the state of Arizona in an effort to assist search efforts for the Infiniti. No one was injured in the shooting. 

Acuna is facing charges including attempted first-degree murder of an officer, aggravated assault against an officer using a deadly weapon, and possession of narcotics, according to court records. Acuna's bond is set at $1 million. 

Additionally, Acuna's case will be handled by the Pinal County Sheriff's Office since there is a conflict — the victim officer in the shooting is married to a Maricopa County Attorney's Office prosecutor, spokesperson Jennifer Liewer told The Arizona Republic last week.

It was not decided as of Tuesday whether a Pinal County attorney would take the case in Maricopa County or if the case would be transferred to Pinal County entirely, Pinal County Attorney's Office spokesperson Trevor Smith told The Republic on Tuesday.

Acuna has an upcoming court hearing on Sept. 28 at the Maricopa County Superior Court building in downtown Phoenix, according to court records and Smith.

DPS was still searching as of Tuesday for the driver of the Infiniti who fled the scene, according to DPS spokesperson Kameron Lee. Officials believe the suspected vehicle is a silver 2008 to 2013 Infiniti G37 with custom chrome wheels.

In a Twitter thread, DPS stated that a temporary license plate on the vehicle was likely replaced with an unknown permanent license plate.

Anyone with information about the vehicle can call 911 or submit an anonymous tip at azactic.gov by clicking "Submit a Tip."

Reach breaking news reporter Brooke Newman at brooke.newman@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @brookerae17. Reach breaking news reporter Katelyn Keenehan at Katelyn.Keenehan@ArizonaRepublic.com or follow her on Twitter @KatelynKeenehan.

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