A Mesa man was shot and killed early Monday in the parking lot of a Mesa church while backing up his younger brother, who went there to confront a man over past insults, police said.
Officers responding to several 911 calls about the 2:30 a.m. shooting found Marco Antonio Torres Jr., 20, in the eastside parking lot of the Central Christian Church at 933 N. Lindsay Road, said Mesa police Sgt. Ruben Quesada.
Torres went to the parking lot with his younger brother to confront Robert “Jason” Biggs, 19, about “disparaging remarks” made about their family. “At some point during the meeting, that’s when shots were fired,” Quesada said.
Torres suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, Quesada said.
Biggs drove away in Torres’ brown 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe, later spotted by a U.S. Border Patrol officer at a rest area on Interstate 8, about 30 miles west of Gila Bend, said Arizona Department of Public Safety officer Frank Valenzuela.
DPS and sheriffs’ deputies from Yuma and Maricopa counties were dispatched, and officers sent in a robot to check out the vehicle. Biggs was inside, asleep under a blanket.
“He was asleep the whole time,” Valenzuela said. “We were able to evacuate the whole rest area without him knowing.” Biggs surrendered without incident to SWAT officers about 9:40 a.m., Valenzuela said.
Friends and family members crowded the Torres home near Mesa Drive and Ninth Avenue to offer their condolences. Daniel Torres, 17, said Marco was his only sibling and they were extremely close. Daniel Torres said his brother was an honest person, and an athlete who used to box.
Marco Torres had been attending Mesa Community College and hoped to pursue a career in the music industry, Daniel Torres said.
“He planned on doing something with his life,” Daniel Torres said. “It’s really not worth it, to pull the trigger.”
The dispute was over a woman who had dated both Biggs and Daniel Torres, according to sources interviewed by the Tribune. Marco didn’t want his brother walking into a confrontation by himself, so he went along, Daniel Torres said.
Biggs was taken to Mesa later Monday morning for further questioning, and was expected to be booked into Maricopa County’s Madison Street Jail in Phoenix on suspicion of first-degree murder.