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Briefs | Arizona reports 682 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 8 deaths

Arizona reported 882 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, April 27. State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ is shown. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

Arizona reported 882 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, April 27. State Health Director Dr. Cara Christ is shown. (File photo by Howard Fischer/For the Miner)

PHOENIX - Arizona health officials are reporting 682 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and eight more deaths.

The state Health Department of Services released the latest pandemic figures Tuesday, bringing the total number of Arizona cases to 860,169 and deaths to 17,276. The number of patients hospitalized statewide for virus-related reasons increased slightly to 615 with 185 of those in the ICU.

More than 2.1 million people, or around 40% of Arizona’s population, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. More than 2.8 million residents have had at least one vaccine shot, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

Meanwhile, state health officials said nearly 60,000 appointments were still available at state-run vaccination sites in metro Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Flagstaff.

Sheriff’s Office: Plane crash victims were Phoenix-area men

WINSLOW - Navajo County authorities have identified the two people killed when a two-engine plane crashed Friday near Winslow as Phoenix-area residents.

Those killed were William Whittington, 70 of Scottsdale, and Stephen Kirkby, 48, of Cave Creek, the county Sheriff’s Office said Monday night in a brief statement.

No information has been released on possible cause of the crash, which is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. The crash occurred near the junction of State Route 87 and Interstate 40.

Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of woman in west Phoenix

PHOENIX - A suspect in a shooting that left a woman dead at a west Phoenix business has been arrested, according to police.

Phoenix police said when officers arrived at the scene around 1 a.m. Sunday, they found 20-year-old Gloria Zermeno on the ground in the parking lot.

Zermeno had been shot in the head and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said 37-year-old Vincente Diaz-Vargas is facing a first-degree murder charge after being identified as a possible suspect through collected forensic evidence, witness testimony and surveillance videos.

It was unclear Monday if Diaz-Vargas has a lawyer yet.

Police said there was a fight in the parking lot earlier in the night and it included Zermeno.

Investigators reviewed surveillance video and saw that a car approached and slowed to a stop near the parking lot where Zermeno was standing.

Several shots were fired from the car before the driver sped off and Zermeno fell to the ground.

During a search of Diaz-Vargas’ home, police reported finding multiple handguns and rifles.

2 men accused of robbing 13 Phoenix-area banks since January

PHOENIX - Two men who allegedly robbed more than a dozen banks in the Phoenix metro area since January have been arrested, the FBI announced Monday.

They said 36-year-old Richard Pratt was taken into custody in Phoenix on April 5 for his alleged involvement in 11 bank robberies while 32-year-old Francisco Bejarano was arrested last Thursday in Goodyear in connection with two bank heists — one in Glendale on Jan. 22 and the other in Phoenix four days later.

FBI officials said Pratt allegedly robbed five banks in Phoenix, two in Apache Junction, two in Casa Grande, one in Goodyear and one in Glendale between Jan. 21 and April 4. Federal prosecutors said Pratt, who is a member of the Gila River Indian Community, was indicted on 12 counts in connection with the robberies while Bejarano was indicted on three counts. Both men remain in federal custody following detention hearings.

Phoenix police: 1-year-old OK after ingesting pill at hotel

PHOENIX - Phoenix police say a 1-year-old girl who was hospitalized after swallowing an unknown pill at a hotel has recovered.

Police spokeswoman Mercedes Fortune said Monday that the infant is “no longer in need of medical attention.”

On Sunday morning, authorities said the girl was rushed to the hospital after ingesting the pill. Firefighters say the baby was suffering from an “altered level of consciousness” and then went into cardiac arrest.

The child’s parents had tried to remove the pill from her mouth before calling 911. Fortune says no arrests will be made. She did not say what the pill was or how the girl found it.

Suspects sought in deadly shooting in Tucson parking garage

TUCSON - Tucson police are searching for two carjacking suspects who fatally shot a man while fleeing a downtown parking garage. Authorities say they received several 911 calls about a shooting around 2:30 a.m. Sunday on Congress Street near Toole Avenue.

Witnesses say two men with a handgun were trying to rob people inside a parking garage and then carjacked a pickup truck. They collided with several cars as they made their way to the first floor.

Investigators say they shot a man in the chest who was one of several people confronting them. Responding officers attempted first aid but he was pronounced dead. He has since been identified as 52-year-old Mark Edward Doe.

Several hours later, police spotted the pickup but with only the driver. They tried to pull the car over as the driver opened fire on officers.

Authorities say the driver abandoned the car and fled into a nearby apartment complex. SWAT officers searched the area but failed to find him.

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