Feds Failed to Deport Illegal Now Suspected of Killing Store Clerk Over Cigarettes
Federal authorities had previously declined to immediately deport an illegal alien now accused of shooting a convenient store clerk to death in Arizona, instead opting to release him on bond, reports allege.
Agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided against deporting 29-year-old Apolinar Altamirano in 2013 after he committed a burglary related offense.
ICE said in a statement yesterday they allowed Altamirano to post bond based on his “immigration and criminal history.”
“After reviewing his immigration and criminal history, which showed only this conviction, ICE determined that under applicable law, Mr. Altamirano was eligible for bond,” the statement reads. “Mr. Altamirano posted a $10,000 bond on January 7, 2013. Mr. Altamirano’s removal case was still pending with the immigration courts at the time of his most recent arrest.”
Altamirano now faces charges of murder after he allegedly walked into a Mesa convenient store and shot graveyard shift employee Grant Ronnebeck, 21, killing him.
Last Thursday morning, Altamirano went into the QuikTrip at the corner of Stapley Drive and Broadway Road around 4am and demanded cigarettes while unloading a jar of change onto the counter.
Court documents reportedly detail how Altamirano, a Mexican national, grew incensed after Ronnebeck refused to sell him cigarettes.
“The clerk says, ‘I can’t give you the cigarettes until I count the money,’” recalled Mesa Police Detective Steve Berry.
“You’re not going to take my money,” stated Altamirano repeatedly, according to a witness who was shopping in the store at the time.
Altamirano then took a handgun and pointed it at Ronnebeck, who at that point tried to hand the man cigarettes.
“The victim was holding the pack of cigarettes out towards the defendant,” the document says, according to AZCentral.com. “The defendant continued to say ‘You’re not gonna give me my cigarettes, no.’”
“The defendant then fired one shot striking the victim.”
After gunning down the clerk, surveillance footage supposedly shows Altamirano stepping over Ronnebeck’s body, walking behind the counter and grabbing two packs of cigarettes before he exits the store.
The shopper who had heard Altamirano arguing with the clerk fled through an emergency door and “flagged down a Mesa police lieutenant who happened to be driving by,“ reports AZCentral.
Police were able to pull Altamirano’s vehicle over a few blocks away from the store, but the suspect fled when officers noticed a gun in the car, leading police on a high-speed chase that ended in Phoenix.
When they caught up to the man, they found him possession of two guns, a 9mm handgun and a revolver, which he was prohibited from having after the aforementioned burglary charge.
Altamirano had also previously been issued a court notice barring him from the store after another incident on January 9.
“I think he had been at the store previously and there was disturbance,” Detective Berry told AZCentral.com. “He was told he was not allowed in the store.”
Among other charges, Altamirano now faces felonies including first-degree murder, unlawful flight from police and armed robbery.