Wednesday’s news conference of Valley law enforcement agencies will be remembered for Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell’s swipe at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his soft-on-crime policies.

Mitchell made national news by telling New York she opposes immediate extradition to New York of a man who confessed to killing a woman in that city and stabbing two women in Phoenix.

But something else stood out at that news conference. Something significant.

It was a point several Valley police agencies tried to make and even appeared to script and coordinate.

But it never broke through all the noise of what is now two warring prosecutors and their respective cities: Phoenix vs. New York.

At the law enforcement news conference at Surprise City Hall, none of the police chiefs, nor assistant chiefs, nor the county attorney ever said so, but they were countering a narrative from the last high-profile crime that involved multiple Valley police agencies.

The case of the “Gilbert Goons.”

That was a story of violent young men who attacked other Valley youth sometimes at random and sometimes deliberately. Those attacks ultimately culminated in the head-stomping assault on 16-year-old Preston Lord at an Oct. 28 Halloween party in Queen Creek.

He later died of his injuries.

Those crimes crossed Valley police jurisdictions and ultimately became a larger story of police failing to communicate and to understand a growing regional crime spree under their own noses.

It was an embarrassment, in particular, for southeast Valley agencies such as Gilbert Police, who had to reopen several investigations they had earlier closed.

Wednesday’s news conference certainly sounded like it was meant to reassure all of metro Phoenix that their police agencies are, indeed, on the ball and talking to one another.

Here was a new case that involved many agencies that required instant communication and fast action to solve.

It involved a series of violent crimes that might have culminated in something far more sinister at the target-rich environment of a shopping mall, had police departments not acted in tandem.

Valley police agencies, including Surprise Police, Phoenix Police, Scottsdale Police and Maricopa County law enforcement labs and agencies worked quickly, employing high-tech cameras to stop a possible attack at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

All of this began on the night of Feb. 7-8, when a man police believe to be 26-year-old Raad Almansoori attacked a woman at the SoHo 54 Hotel in Manhattan.

The man struck the woman in the head with an iron and later fled, reported The New York Times. Hotel workers would later discover the body of 38-year-old Denisse Oleas-Arancibia, who New York police say had been working as an escort.

On Feb. 12, Almansoori flew from Newark, N.J., to metro Phoenix, where he has lived off and on for years.

Then on Feb. 17, a man armed with a knife and gun, believed to be Almansoori, stabbed a woman at a business in west Phoenix and tried to steal her car, Phoenix Police Assistant Chief Ed DeCastro said.

The assailant eventually fled on foot.

On Feb. 18, a suspect now believed to be the same man attacked an 18-year-old woman in the restroom of a McDonald’s in Surprise, stabbing her repeatedly in the neck, according to Surprise Police.

Soon someone nearby reported a stolen vehicle, and officers quickly linked it to the McDonald’s stabbing.

Valley police agencies worked in concert using license-plate reading cameras and cross-communications to locate Almansoori in a parking garage at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Their quick work may have averted a much more serious situation that could have involved multiple victims.

“If any of you have been to Scottsdale Fashion Square, that’s thousands and thousands of people from all around the Valley — we call it ‘The People’s Mall’ now — and multiple parking garages,” said Scottsdale Police Chief Jeff Walther, at Wednesday’s news conference.

“We flooded that area with resources. Found the suspect in the vehicle in one of the larger parking garages on the third floor.”

After the arrest, Scottsdale Police transported Almansoori back to Surprise, where a police investigator questioned him.

During the suspect interview, Almansoori confessed to the New York killing and the stabbings in Phoenix and Surprise, Surprise Police Chief Benny Piña said.

“Almansoori also told us that he had intended to find and harm more individuals in our community,“ Piña said. “This arrest without a doubt stopped someone — as heinous as everything he has done so far — from continuing that path of destruction.”

Added Scottsdale P.D.’s Walther: “I think Chief Piña hit that nail on the head when he talked about that this gentleman was going to continue this string of violence, but he was going to do so there at Scottsdale Fashion Square.”

The counter-narrative to the Gilbert Goons is a powerful story.

It does begin to restore faith that Valley police agencies are not only capable of working together, but at breakneck speed under urgent circumstances and high stress.

Unfortunately, much of that was lost when the story of battling Phoenix and New York prosecutors pushed everything else aside.

Phil Boas is an editorial columnist with The Arizona Republic. Email him at phil.boas@arizonarepublic.com.

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Valley police may have just prevented a terrible crime

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23.02.2024

Wednesday’s news conference of Valley law enforcement agencies will be remembered for Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell’s swipe at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his soft-on-crime policies.

Mitchell made national news by telling New York she opposes immediate extradition to New York of a man who confessed to killing a woman in that city and stabbing two women in Phoenix.

But something else stood out at that news conference. Something significant.

It was a point several Valley police agencies tried to make and even appeared to script and coordinate.

But it never broke through all the noise of what is now two warring prosecutors and their respective cities: Phoenix vs. New York.

At the law enforcement news conference at Surprise City Hall, none of the police chiefs, nor assistant chiefs, nor the county attorney ever said so, but they were countering a narrative from the last high-profile crime that involved multiple Valley police agencies.

The case of the “Gilbert Goons.”

That was a story of violent young men who attacked other Valley youth sometimes at random and sometimes deliberately. Those attacks ultimately culminated in the head-stomping assault on 16-year-old Preston Lord at an Oct. 28 Halloween party in Queen Creek.

He later died of his injuries.

Those........

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