Suspect in US illegally before shooting death of Mesa store clerk

Apolinar Altamirano in his booking photo Jan. 22, 2015. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)Sent to us by a reader.

KPTV 5 News

MESA, AZ (CBS5) – An undocumented immigrant from Mexico was out on bond when he allegedly shot a store clerk in Mesa on Thursday.

Apolinar Altamirano, 29, was captured early Thursday morning in the West Valley after a chase with Mesa police and Arizona Department of Public Safety officers.  

He is suspected of shooting and killing Grant Ronnebeck, 21, a clerk at the QT store at 414 S. Stapley Dr.

Police said surveillance video showed Altamirano walking into the QT about 4 a.m. Thursday and asking Ronnebeck for a pack of cigarettes. Ronnebeck asked several times what type of cigarettes, and Altamirano pointed to a pack behind the counter, a Mesa police officer said.

Altamirano then dumped a jar of coins onto the counter and Ronnebeck told him he needed to pay for the cigarettes first, the officer said.

Altamirano became agitated and pulled a gun and pointed it at Ronnebeck, who then tried to hand the suspect the pack of cigarettes.

Altamirano said, “You’re not going to give me my cigarettes,” and fired one shot into Ronnebeck.

Altamirano calmly walked behind the counter, over Ronnebeck’s body and grabbed several packs of cigarettes before slowly walking out of the store.

A witness who had been in the store when Ronnebeck was shot flagged down an officer and provided a description of the suspect and the car he was driving, the officer said.

Mesa officers stopped a car and driver matching the descriptions and saw a handgun in the front passenger seat. As they tried to talk with the driver, he sped away, the officer said.

Several law enforcement agencies chased the car, and Arizona Department of Public Safety officers eventually stopped him at 19th Avenue and Buckeye Road, about 25 miles from the crime scene.

Police said Altamirano had been cited for trespassing at the same store Jan. 9 and was served with an injunction for harassment Jan. 19.

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said Altamirano is in the U.S. illegally and was out on bond while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement determined whether he should be deported.

Altamirano was booked into the Maricopa County Jail on felony counts of armed robbery, burglary, illegal possession of a weapon, unlawful flight and related charges.

He was being held on $1 million bond.

His next court appearance is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Jan. 29.

Police said Altamirano was removed from the same store for trespassing on Jan. 9.

He also was served with an injunction against harassment on Jan. 19 and is a convicted felon, which prohibits him from possessing firearms.

Altamirano has a short criminal history. He was arrested in August 2012 and in January 2013, he took a plea deal for second-degree burglary to have theft and kidnapping charges dismissed. He was sentenced to two years of probation.

QuikTrip officials issued this statement Thursday afternoon:

“As you are aware, law enforcement is still conducting their investigation. QuikTrip is absolutely devastated and heart broken by this tragic loss. Our deepest sympathies, thoughts and prayers are with our employee’s family.”

If you’d like to help, a GoFundMe account has been established in his honor.

Copyright 2015 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation).
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3 thoughts on “Suspect in US illegally before shooting death of Mesa store clerk

  1. This is just plain damn wrong. How the hell did this fat fukking Mexican get across the border in the first place? Did the feds airlift him in with a chopper? Looks like he had no choice but to drive away from the scene, he wouldn’t have made it half a block on foot.
    I notice the pigs pulled him over, saw the gun in the seat and the fat fukker is still breathing. If that had been an American the pigs would have shot the shit out of him.
    What a great big load of fukkin fail.

  2. Arm all store clerks, especially near the border or in high illegal areas. Clerks have a right to go home after their shifts as well as cops.

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