PD: Bullets, social media tie suspect to MCSO detention officer

PD: Bullets, social media tie suspect to MCSO detention officer murder

Posted: Updated:
Leonard Moreno Leonard Moreno
Ivan Montes Ivan Montes
Jorge Vargas, detention officer Jorge Vargas, detention officer
PHOENIX -

Phoenix Police announced Wednesday that there has been an arrest in the homicide of 27-year-old MCSO detention officer Jorge Vargas.

Vargas was gunned down in his driveway Thursday, August 8. He was dressed in his sheriff's office uniform and the hood of his vehicle was propped open.

The suspect has been identified as 15-year-old male Leonard Moreno. He is facing charges of first degree murder, and will be charged as an adult.

Police said Moreno was impaired by alcohol and drugs at the time of the shooting and was a member of a gang. He had left a party about 3 a.m.

"Leonard Moreno wanted to be a gang member. Leonard Moreno is a drug user and seller and he acquired a weapon," said Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia.

Vargas was shot about 4 a.m. Investigators don't know what happened in the driveway before Moreno allegedly shot Vargas.

They said there was no reason to believe that Moreno knew Vargas personally. Police believe Vargas was a random victim. 

Police say the teen's mother and a friend have also been arrested on charges of hindering prosecution and disorderly conduct.

Cathy Seymour was expected to be charged with hindering prosecution of her son. Ivan Montes, 20, was booked on charges of hindering prosecution and disorderly conduct, Crump said. They both are suspected of trying to get rid of evidence and helping Moreno avoid detection from the police.

The weapon used to kill Vargas has not been recovered, but shell casings at the scene were used to tie the teen to the shooting. Detectives also evaluated social media in the case.

It turns out bullets from the gun that was used to kill that detention officer matched shell casings entered into a database from Montes' suicide attempt from several months ago.

Montes talked to police and allegedly said he sold the gun to Moreno for $350.

Officers got search warrants for Moreno's Facebook and Instagram and found pictures he posted holding a gun, which looks like the same type of gun used in the detention officer's shooting.

His Instagram post says, "Did it once for fun.. Don't make me do it again..."

"It is a dangerous profession and this is something we always have to put up with, it is very sad when you lose a law enforcement officer," said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Vargas worked with MCSO for 8 years. He supervised inmates who worked in the jail's kitchen.

Moreno has actually been inside the 4th Ave Jail for several weeks on an unrelated aggravated assault charge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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