Stabbing, Fistfights Lead To Arrests

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Road rage evolved into a stabbing, two fistfights and a pair of arrests, including one for possession of methamphetamine, Sunday afternoon.

The events began around noon Sunday, as two westbound cars which were traveling together passed a four-car convoy on Highway 260 near Christopher Creek, Payson Police Officer Billy Hoffman said Monday.

According to occupants of the passed cars, an occupant of one of the passing cars made an obscene gesture as it sped ahead of the caravan.

When three of the six vehicles involved reached Payson at about 12:30 p.m., they all turned into the Giant gas station on East Highway 260. There, two separate fights broke out between passengers from both groups of automobiles. In one of the physical altercations, 34-year-old Lorenzo Flores of Casa Grande produced an ice pick, with which he stabbed a 17-year-old Mesa juvenile inflicting superficial lacerations in the boy's left upper arm and neck.

It was the boy's group which had been accused of making the obscene gesture that apparently started the fracas, Hoffman said.

"The store clerk came out and jumped into the altercation to break it up," Hoffman said. "At that time, some customers called the police, those involved in the fighting were separated, and Flores and his companions fled."

The juvenile, who refused medical treatment at the scene, was interviewed and released at the scene with other members of his group. The boy's father took him to Payson Regional Medical Center and he was treated for minor injuries, Hoffman said.

To find Flores, Payson police officers issued an "attempt to locate" to all law enforcement agencies in the area.

Flores and his companions were later located near milepost 189 on the Beeline Highway, where they were detained by officers from the Department of Public Safety and the Fort McDowell Police Department.

Payson Police officers then went to Fort McDowell to interview Flores and his companions.

"At that time, we arrested Lorenzo Flores for aggravated assault," Hoffman said. "He also had a valid contempt-of-court warrant out of Casa Grande." Police seized two ice picks from Flores' vehicle.

Gregory Hernandez, 25, of Casa Grande, who had been traveling in another car within the Flores group, was arrested for disorderly conduct for his role in the second fight at the Giant gas station.

During a subsequent search of Flores' car, Hoffman said, "We seized one-half ounce of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Those charges, however, are still pending, because we still don't know if they will be filed here in Payson or in Maricopa County."

Additional charges are also pending on the stabbing victim and his companions, Hoffman said, based on information given officers by Flores and his companions.

"We'll see what route the county attorney wants to pursue," the officer said.

Flores and Hernandez were taken to Payson Jail following their arrests. Monday, Hernandez pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated assault, paid a $426 fine, and was released.

Flores remains in custody on a $25,000 bond.

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