Maricopa County Sheriff Penzone calls for audit of MCSO arsenal after police shooting

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone on Thursday said he has called for an in-depth audit of the agency’s arsenal after he found out that a firearm used by a man killed in a shootout with police had been unaccounted for in a previous inventory review.

Penzone’s announcement comes after Phoenix police, which is investigating Monday’s fatal shooting on Interstate 17, determined Arnaldo Caraveo, 27, was in possession of two stolen Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office firearms: a rifle and a long gun. Caraveo had a history of trafficking in stolen property, some of which may have included firearms, according to court records.

“I have ordered a second complete audit of all weapons, to include photographic documentation of each weapon,” Penzone said in a statement.

During a press conference Wednesday, Penzone said that 29 weapons were identified either as stolen or missing from the Sheriff’s Office sometime between 2010 and 2015, according to a 2016 audit completed under former Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

But on Thursday, Penzone clarified in a statement that one of the two firearms found in Caraveo’s vehicle had been previously unaccounted for MCSO’s 2016 review.  

Arpaio told The Arizona Republic on Thursday that his office took responsibility once he found out about the missing or stolen weapons.

“My only comment is that when some weapons weren’t accounted for, my staff took appropriate action,” Arpaio said. “I’m not sheriff anymore. I’m not privy to all the files, and I’m not privy to the investigation.”

Penzone didn’t say how Caraveo, who was shot dead by Department of Public Safety troopers after he injured two of them, may have come to possess the weapons.

1033 Program

The sheriff also hasn’t said if the two weapons recovered this week had originated from a federal program that hands out surplus military gear to local law enforcement, colloquially known as the 1033 Program.

In 2015, President Barack Obama had limited the type of weapons — aircraft, wheeled tactical vehicles, mobile command-and-control units, battering rams and riot gear — that the Department of Defense could give to local police departments through the 1033 Program.

President Donald Trump reversed Obama’s order in August 2017.

Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said Penzone wouldn’t make any further comments until the audit is complete.

In 2014, then-Sheriff Arpaio admitted that nine firearms his office received through the 1033 Program had gone missing. Arpaio said the agency picked up about 200 weapons from the surplus program shortly after he was elected in 1993, and 20 to 22 had vanished over the years. Some of those were later recovered.

Past criminal history

A search-warrant affidavit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court shows that Mesa police had received a tip from a confidential informant in October 2012 indicating Caraveo was “involved in the trafficking of stolen property and was responsible for organizing burglary crews to obtain property to sell, with an emphasis on obtaining firearms and high-end electronics.”

Officers did not confiscate any weapons during the search of Caraveo’s property, according to the search warrant return, but they did seize other items, such as electronics, drug paraphernalia and some marijuana. 

Caraveo, who has two sons and a daughter, was sentenced in 2014 to three years in the Arizona Department of Corrections for second-degree burglary and aggravated assault. He was released In April 2017.

Police arrested and jailed Caraveo again Sept. 21 in Mesa after officers pulled him over for speeding. When they stopped him, he ran from the car, stumbled and fell under a bush, court records said. Police took him into custody and found two handguns nearby, including one that was stolen out of Phoenix. He was arrested on suspicion of theft, possession of drug paraphernalia and weapons violations. The case was pending in Maricopa County Superior Court before he was killed Monday.

Shootings

The shooting involving Caraveo was one of two police shootings that day. In Tempe, police there shot and killed a man who injured two officers who were attempting to serve a protection order on him. 

The I-17 shootout happened at about 5 p.m. Monday. It started when Mesa police and DPS troopers began pursuing Caraveo after he fled an incident that began in downtown Mesa.

DPS had joined Monday’s effort to stop Caraveo and declared a pursuit as the vehicles headed toward downtown Phoenix on the freeway. 

With other motorists inching by to the left, and oncoming traffic lanes becoming ever more congested on the freeway, a DPS trooper used a precision immobilization technique — better known as a PIT maneuver — to ram the back of Caraveo’s truck on northbound I-17 near Seventh Street.

The truck spun 180 degrees clockwise as law-enforcement officers surrounded the truck. 

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