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SAT: Police seek suspect in shooting that killed man and wounded dog, + More

yessenia_the_pit_bull.jpg
Albuquerque Animal Control
/
Associated Press
Yessenia the Pit Bull, seen at an animal shelter in Albuquerque, while recovering from a gunshot wound

US Southwest hits impressive rainfall during summer monsoon - By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Cities across the U.S. Southwest hit impressive rainfall totals this summer, bringing much-needed — but temporary — relief to a region that has been mired in drought.

The winter, however, could be disappointing, with an expected weather pattern that typically means less snowpack that rivers and streams rely on, weather experts said.

The annual rainy period known simply as "the monsoon" ended Thursday with widespread precipitation across New Mexico and Arizona, including snow in higher elevations. The seasonal weather pattern starts in mid-June and brings high hopes for rain but doesn't always deliver.

This year, it did but not equitably.

Payson, about an hour and a half drive north of Phoenix, had more than twice its normal rainfall, logging it's wettest monsoon on record with nearly 15 inches. Farther east, Show Low's rain also hit a record 12.5 inches. In the desert of southern Arizona, Tucson recorded its third-wettest monsoon, with 12.7 inches.

Phoenix had the second-most days of measurable rain during the monsoon, with 23, one day short of the record of 24 days set in 1896. But the city was nowhere near the top in overall rainfall. 

Many areas had above-normal precipitation, including Flagstaff, Prescott and Canyon de Chelly near Chinle on the Navajo Nation. The rainfall was more remarkable following two consecutive dry monsoons. 

"It just kept going," said Mike Crimmins, a climatologist at the University of Arizona. "It was pretty epic, especially for the lower desert areas of Arizona from Tucson to Phoenix and out towards Yuma."

New Mexico saw wide variability in this year's monsoon.

Albuquerque was still below average for the calendar year by about 2 inches (5 centimeters), said Todd Shoemake at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. After dismal rain in August, the last gasps of the monsoon provided a big boost and put September closer to average, he said. 

"Going back to that spotty nature of the monsoon, it's kind of hit and miss," Shoemake said. "And we had a lot of misses there in August."

Roswell in the southeastern part of the state had a huge rainfall deficit in the early part of the year, he said, but ended the monsoon with more than 15 inches — well above normal. 

The Four Corners area where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet didn't fare nearly as well. It had below-average rainfall in general and remains in severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Despite the rainfall, the Southwest is still trending toward hotter, drier weather because of climate change. Wide swings in weather also are possible.

"I don't think this kind of summer is necessarily off the table in the future," Crimmins said. "It could be this kind of summer is more frequent or maybe less frequent or maybe we just have to wait another 50 years to see something similar."

A dry winter could be in store for the Southwest. A weather pattern known as La Niña is setting up, which typically means less moisture.

"Our short-term drought relief may be short-lived," Crimmins said.

 Jurors In Airman's Murder Trial Hear From Cellphone Expert - By Felicia Fonseca Associated Press

Jurors hearing the case against U.S. Air Force airman Mark Gooch heard lengthy testimony Friday from a cellphone data expert who mapped the route that Gooch allegedly drove the day a Mennonite woman was kidnapped from northwestern New Mexico.

Sasha Krause, who worked at a publishing ministry in the Mennonite community, was found more than a month later with a gunshot wound to the head in a forest clearing outside Flagstaff, Arizona. Gooch, 22, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and other charges in her death.

No DNA evidence, eyewitnesses or fingerprints tie Gooch to the crime. 

The prosecutor is asking the jury to look at various puzzle pieces that, when assembled, show Gooch traveled from Luke Air Force Base, where he was stationed in metropolitan Phoenix, to the Mennonite community in Farmington, New Mexico, where Krause was gathering materials for Sunday school when she disappeared.

Testimony from Sev Dishman, a cellphone expert and retired Army sergeant major, took up much of the day Friday. He led jurors through an extensive presentation that explained types of cellphone data, concentration of cell sites and degree of accuracy for location data.

Dishman acknowledged on cross-examination from Gooch's attorney, Bruce Griffen, that none of the evidence directly places Gooch at the church compound or in the forest, nor does it explain what happened at either location. 

The data puts Gooch's cellphone within a half-mile of the church and 1.3 miles (2.1 kilometers) from where Krause's body was found based on the phone's communication with cell sites, Dishman said. Gooch's phone also was the only device that communicated with the same sites as Krause's phone before her signal dropped off west of Farmington, Dishman said.

The data created a path from the air base early on Jan. 18 past Flagstaff's snow-capped mountains and through the Navajo reservation, where receipts showed Gooch stopped for food and then for gas in Farmington. Two photos taken on Gooch's phone showed spots along Interstate 17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Gooch's cellphone records indicated his phone was around the Mennonite church for a couple of hours before returning on the same route, but with a detour in the forest outside Flagstaff after midnight. Surveillance video at the base showed his car returned at about 7 a.m. the day after he left.

Dishman explained gaps in the cellphone data by the lack of cell sites on the vast Navajo Nation and near Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument where a camper discovered Krause's body. Location data would be more accurate, he said, if a cellphone user had GPS on.

Any location data produced by AT&T, which relies on assisted GPS, has to be corroborated, Dishman said. Both Krause and Gooch had AT&T service, he said.

Records showed the Google location history from Gooch's phone had been deleted. Gooch had asked his brother, Samuel, to remotely wipe his phone and SD cards, cancel automatic payments and drain an account, according to a recorded jail conversation between them and testimony from Samuel Gooch earlier this week.

Jurors are expected to hear the entire conversation between Mark Gooch and Coconino County Sheriff's Detective Lauren Nagele, who questioned him at the air base in April 2020, sometime next week. In the interview, Gooch acknowledged traveling to Farmington when Krause was reported missing.

He said he had time for a long drive, wanted to stop at a ski resort outside Flagstaff and then decided to check out a Mennonite church service near Farmington since he already was hours into the weekend trip and craved the fellowship. He denied kidnapping or killing Krause. 

Gooch said he thought he returned to the air base around 2 a.m. the next day, according to the interview. No one else had access to his phone that day, he said, according to sheriff's records.

There's no indication Gooch and Krause knew each other. Gooch grew up in a Mennonite community in Wisconsin but never officially joined the church. Krause, 27, taught school in Texas, where her parents still live, before moving to New Mexico.

The trial continues Tuesday.

California grocer acquires Arizona's Bashas' Supermarkets – Associated Press

The popular Arizona grocery chain Bashas' Family of Stores says it has signed a deal to be acquired by Raley's, an independent regional grocer based in California. 

Edward "Trey" Basha, president and chief executive officer of Bashas', and Keith Knopf, president and chief executive officer of Raley's Holding Company made the announcement Friday. 

They said Bashas' store banners, employment, and operations across Arizona will continue without change or interruption. 

Under the agreement, Bashas' will be a fully formed operating company with the Raley's enterprise. It will continue to serve customers across Arizona and New Mexico and its tribal partners, including the Navajo Nation, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos Apache, and Tohono O'odham.

Bashas' Family of Stores operates Food City, AJ's Fine Foods, Eddie's Country Store, and both Bashas' and Bashas' Diné supermarkets. With more than 100 grocery stores, it is one of the largest employers in Arizona.

Police seek suspect in shooting that killed man, wounded dog - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press/Report For America

Authorities in New Mexico's largest city said they were looking for a shooter who killed a neighbor and wounded his dog while they were out for a walk.

Shawn Lynch, 34, was walking his pit bull, Yessenia, last week when a neighbor with a history of violence yelled at him from a parked SUV, accusing him of looking at him the wrong way, according to an arrest warrant that Albuquerque police issued for the suspect this week. 

According to witness accounts documented by police, 22-year-old Xavier Marquez grabbed a 9 mm pistol, got out of the vehicle and shot the dog in the rear. When Lynch yelled back, Marquez fired around 10 shots, four of which hit Lynch.

One bullet went through a wall in the apartment complex where the men lived, landing in a mattress where a woman was lying in her bed. No one else was injured in the Sept. 22 shooting.

Marquez drove away on a moped, and Yessenia limped to her dog bed, leaving a trail of blood, according to the police warrant. The animal is getting care and recovering.

Lynch's death five days later added to the record number of homicides in Albuquerque this year, which reached 85 as of Monday.

Nationally, homicides were up nearly 30% last year, the largest one-year jump ever, according to FBI data released this week.

Police wrote that Marquez was an "involved party" in two Albuquerque homicides this summer, writing in a warrant that one police report listed him as wearing a ballistic vest. 

Marquez wasn't charged in those cases but was arrested on Aug. 20 after punching two strangers, including an off-duty police officer, court records show. He was released on the condition that he wouldn't keep any guns and went to a court hearing scheduled this month.

Albuquerque assistant public defender Hadley Brown, who supervises Marquez's attorney in the assault case, declined to comment. Brown wouldn't release the name of the attorney.

Police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos declined to comment on the summer homicide cases involving Marquez and the department's efforts to arrest him.

The pit bull that was shot survived after veterinarians removed a 9 mm bullet fragment from its leg, according to city animal control officials.

"She's actually doing really well. It's amazing how resilient animals are when something this traumatic happens," said Albuquerque Animal Welfare spokeswoman Desiree Cawley, adding that Lynch's family is still deciding who should take care of the dog when it recovers.

US Southwest hits impressive rainfall during summer monsoon - By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Cities across the U.S. Southwest hit impressive rainfall totals this summer, bringing much-needed — but temporary — relief to a region that has been mired in drought.

The winter, however, could be disappointing, with an expected weather pattern that typically means less snowpack that rivers and streams rely on, weather experts said.

The annual rainy period known simply as "the monsoon" ended Thursday with widespread precipitation across New Mexico and Arizona, including snow in higher elevations. The seasonal weather pattern starts in mid-June and brings high hopes for rain but doesn't always deliver.

This year, it did but not equitably.

Payson, about an hour and a half drive north of Phoenix, had more than twice its normal rainfall, logging it's wettest monsoon on record with nearly 15 inches (38 centimeters). Farther east, Show Low's rain also hit a record 12.5 inches (31.7 centimeters). In the desert of southern Arizona, Tucson recorded its third-wettest monsoon, with 12.7 inches (32.5 centimeters).

Phoenix had the second-most days of measurable rain during the monsoon, with 23, one day short of the record of 24 days set in 1896. But the city was nowhere near the top in overall rainfall. 

Many areas had above-normal precipitation, including Flagstaff, Prescott and Canyon de Chelly near Chinle on the Navajo Nation. The rainfall was more remarkable following two consecutive dry monsoons. 

"It just kept going," said Mike Crimmins, a climatologist at the University of Arizona. "It was pretty epic, especially for the lower desert areas of Arizona from Tucson to Phoenix and out towards Yuma."

New Mexico saw wide variability in this year's monsoon.

Albuquerque was still below average for the calendar year by about 2 inches (5 centimeters), said Todd Shoemake at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. After dismal rain in August, the last gasps of the monsoon provided a big boost and put September closer to average, he said. 

"Going back to that spotty nature of the monsoon, it's kind of hit and miss," Shoemake said. "And we had a lot of misses there in August."

Roswell in the southeastern part of the state had a huge rainfall deficit in the early part of the year, he said, but ended the monsoon with more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) — well above normal. 

The Four Corners area where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet didn't fare nearly as well. It had below-average rainfall in general and remains in severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Despite the rainfall, the Southwest is still trending toward hotter, drier weather because of climate change. Wide swings in weather also are possible.

"I don't think this kind of summer is necessarily off the table in the future," Crimmins said. "It could be this kind of summer is more frequent or maybe less frequent or maybe we just have to wait another 50 years to see something similar."

A dry winter could be in store for the Southwest. A weather pattern known as La Niña is setting up, which typically means less moisture.

"Our short-term drought relief may be short-lived," Crimmins said.

Nick Brown, Vanessa Waldref confirmed as US attorneys – Associated Press

The U.S. Senate has confirmed a pair of firsts to be the Justice Department's top lawyers in Washington state.

Nick Brown, the former general counsel to Gov. Jay Inslee, will be the first Black top federal prosecutor in western Washington, while Vanessa Waldref, an environmental lawyer for the Justice Department, will be the first woman to run the U.S. attorney's office in eastern Washington.

The Senate confirmed them both by voice vote Thursday. They're expected to be sworn in soon. 

President Joe Biden nominated the two on the recommendation of Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. 

Brown, 44, is a litigation partner at Pacifica Law Group in Seattle, where he handles complex civil, regulatory, public policy and other matters for public and private clients. He served as Inslee's counsel from 2013 to 2017, helping the governor navigate a thicket of issues that included Inslee's 2014 moratorium on the death penalty and tension with the federal government after Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize the sale of marijuana for adults.

Before that, Brown, a graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard Law, was an assistant U.S. attorney in Seattle for six years, and served as a judge advocate general in the Army. In a less common qualification for a potential top federal prosecutor, he was a contestant on the second season of the reality show "Survivor," which aired in 2001.

Waldref, 41, is a trial attorney in the Justice Department's Environmental Defense Section, where she defends rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and handles Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act issues. She previously spent seven years handling civil and criminal cases as an assistant U.S. attorney in Spokane, including successfully defending an ecosystem restoration project in the Colville National Forest that involved rebuilding roads, improving fish habitat and thinning trees.

In 2018, Waldref helped win a $3.2 million fraud settlement from a major contractor on the cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Restoration, following a whistleblower complaint that alleged the contractor was not directing subcontracts to women-owned or other disadvantaged businesses as required by the Department of Energy.

A graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown Law, she has also worked in private practice in Spokane and in Washington, D.C., and she has taught administrative and environmental law at the Gonzaga University School of Law. Her sister Amber served for eight years on the Spokane City Council.