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DPS Officer rescues two children from unstable relative on I-17 in Phoenix

Man walked into freeway traffic with child in his arms, threatened to use gun

Monday, January 25, 2010 -

On Saturday, January 23, 2010 at about 3:04 p.m., Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) Officers responded to a report of pedestrians on the freeway southbound on I-17 at Greenway Road in Phoenix. The first DPS officer arrived within three minutes of the call and found a male subject, later identified as Gabriel Lopez Garcia, 34, of Phoenix, Ariz., squatting down while holding two children, a five-year-old female and a six-year-old male, in the emergency lane against the metal guardrail.

Garcia told the officer his car was broken down, though no car was seen in the area. The officer asked Garcia to move out of the emergency lane with the children to the other side of the guardrail on the right side of the emergency lane. At this point, Garcia began acting frantic and yelling at the DPS officer, saying he (the officer), was not a police officer. Garcia continued to yell for the police to come to his aid. Garcia then started walking north into traffic with the five-year-old child in his arms, leaving the six-year-old on the shoulder.

As he was between the DPS patrol car and the far right travel lane, the DPS officer attempted to calm Garcia down by stepping back and asking him to stay in the emergency lane. Garcia turned, and without conscious regard or awareness for the traffic, walked toward the #2 lane, or center lane, with the 5-year-old female child in his arms. Traffic at that exact moment was light, and he made it to the #1 lane that is adjacent to the HOV lane. Traffic observed him and came to a complete stop, allowing the DPS officer to run after him in the road. Two City of Phoenix Police Officers were traveling in an unmarked police vehicle and observed the situation in the traffic lanes in front of them. The Phoenix Police Officers exited their vehicle and assisted the DPS officer. As the three officers closed in on Garcia against the center concrete barrier wall, Garcia yelled that he had a gun. The DPS officer deployed his Taser on Garcia and physically took him down to the ground, taking him into custody.

Officers discovered Garcia did have a fully loaded .45 cal Taurus Pistol on his person along with additional loose ammunition in his pockets. A check of the pistol revealed it was stolen. Both children were scared but uninjured. Also located inside the subjects pant pocket was a glass smoking device or drug paraphernalia. The subject taken into custody was actually the uncle of the children. Both of the children were transported to Child Protective Services (CPS) where an investigation into the family situation will be conducted. Garcia was transported to the 4th Avenue Jail and booked for the following offenses as well as a Department of Corrections Revocation of Parole Warrant.

2 COUNTS, ARS 13-3623A2 CHILD ABUSE (CLASS 3 FELONY)

3 COUNTS, ARS 13-1202A2 THREATENING OR INTIMIDATING (CLASS 3 FELONY)

1 COUNT, ARS 13-3102A8 MISCONDUCT INVOLVING WEAPONS (CLASS 4 FELONY)

1 COUNT, ARS 13-3102A4 MISCONDUCT INVOLVING WEAPONS - PROHIBITED POSSESSOR (CLASS 4 FELONY)

1 COUNT, ARS 13-1204A8A AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON A POLICE OFFICER (CLASS 6 FELONY)

5 COUNTS, ARS 13-1201A ENDANGERMENT (CLASS 6 FELONY)

1 COUNT, ARS 13-3415A POSSESSION OF DRUG PARAPHERNALIA (CLASS 6 FELONY)

1 COUNT, ARS 13-2906A OBSTRUCTION OF A HIGHWAY/PUBLIC THOROUGHFARE (CLASS 3 MISDEMEANOR)

1 COUNT, ARS 13-1802A5 THEFT/POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY (CLASS 1 MISDEMEANOR)

GABRIEL LOPEZ GARCIA, 34,

PHOENIX, ARIZONA

MCSO BOOKING #P625047

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