Man shot to death in Mesa driveway - East Valley Tribune: News

Man shot to death in Mesa driveway

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Posted: Friday, February 19, 2010 10:04 am | Updated: 3:33 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

A shooting on Thursday left a father of seven dead and his neighbor on the run.

Arturo Garcia, 48, was shot about 7:30 p.m. in the 7800 block of East Javalina Drive in Mesa as he said goodnight to the suspected shooter, who was Garcia's longtime friend, former co-worker and neighbor.

According to Garcia's family and other witnesses, there were no harsh words or any physical fighting before the gunshot.

Detective Michael Melendez, Mesa police spokesman, said investigators are still searching for the suspect and a motive.

"They still don't know what happened," Melendez said.

Police have not released the name of the suspect.

Dayana Gomez, 15, said she witnessed the shooting from her front yard across the street from Garcia's home.

She said the alleged shooter, who lives a few doors from Garcia, was in his truck and Garcia was standing in the street beside the driver's door when she heard the gunshot.

Gomez said the shooter asked Garcia in Spanish if he was OK and then ran with a rifle to his house.

A sister-in-law of Garcia's who did not want to provide her name said police recovered the gun at the shooter's house.

Garcia's 8-year-old daughter, Maria, said the family was in the house as her dad and the shooter drank beer and listened to music in the driveway.

The sister-in-law said the shooter had recently bought the rifle and had invited Garcia and others to go shoot it in the desert, but everyone was too busy to go.

Garcia's children range in age from 8 to 29.

The sister-in-law said Garcia's family and the shooter's family were close.

"Both families hung out all the time - reunions, dinners, you name it," she said.

The suspected shooter has a wife and two children, according to neighbors.

Garcia was a dishwasher at Uncle Bear's Grill and Bar, at the corner of Ellsworth and Baseline roads, and the suspected shooter worked there until a few months ago.

Chuck Smeriglio, the restaurant's general manager, said Garcia was an easygoing, hard worker who got along with everyone.

"He's friends with all my guys back there. They're all broken up," Smeriglio said.

"He was a great guy, a father, a friend to the whole staff."

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