The sounds of people shouting as a man was being beaten on the dock next to Green Valley Lake caught the attention of Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner Sunday night.
"I was over by the playground when I heard the yelling," said Gartner who was taking a walk in the area around 10 p.m. "I could hear the screaming and threatening and then the victim went down and there were at least three of them kicking on him. I dialed 911."
Gartner ran toward the group and identified himself as a police officer.
"As soon as they heard that they took off and got into a vehicle," Gartner said. "But our officers were right there within seconds and had them stopped."
Officers detained four individuals, two juveniles and two adults, who they suspected of beating an 18-year-old man from the Tonto Apache Reservation.
Officer Mike Varga tended to the victim who he said had been punched repeatedly in the head and kicked numerous times while he lay on the ground.
"As it turns out, his injuries were not as bad as they appeared when I got there," Varga said.
The victim suffered cuts and contusions to his arms and head and was taken to Payson Regional Medical Center. He was released early Monday morning, Varga said.
Anthony Sean Johnson, 18, Tonto Apache Reservation, was charged with aggravated assault and DUI. Kimberly Tinnin, 21, Tonto Apache Reservation, was charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Both were booked into Gila County jail.
The two male juveniles, 15 and 16, were charged with aggravated assault and were transported to the detention facility in Globe.
Officers initially suspected the attack to be gang related. Varga said that while some of the perpetrators were dressed in gang attire and may be affiliated with a gang, the motive of the beating remains unclear.
"The motive is sketchy because the stories are inconsistent," Varga said. "There is some gang affiliation that we are aware of, but I wouldn't necessarily call it gang-related. It seems to be more of an internal dispute. The suspects aren't talking." Nor is the victim.
Gartner suspected the beating had some connection to a case the Tonto Apache Police and the Payson Police Department have been working on involving a stolen vehicle containing stolen property.
"We had an investigation Friday with the Tonto Apache Tribal Police in which we recovered a stolen vehicle from Fountain Hills out on the reservation," Gartner said. "In the stolen vehicle there was also some property ... (The victim and Tinnin) were arrested for possession of stolen property by the tribal police."
Gartner said he believes the beating was some kind of vendetta related to the incident.