Double Murder Spurs Three Payson Arrests

Drug deal gone bad in Apache Junction leads to Rim Country arrests that include former football star

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Timothy Bunting Kylan Rubio Nikki Small

Police say a drug deal turned deadly Monday in an Apache Junction motor home when at least one Payson resident opened fire on two men, killing them before fleeing back to the Rim Country.

After a 12-hour search through two counties, police arrested three Payson residents Tuesday with little resistance.

Police arrested Kylan Rubio, 25, of Strawberry, at his home on charges of second-degree murder, conspiracy to possess and distribute narcotics and firearm violations.

Nikki Small, 30, and Timothy Bunting Jr., 30, both of Payson, were arrested on charges of facilitation of second-degree murder and conspiracy to possess and distribute narcotics.

Rubio is being held without bond and a judge set a $150,000 bond for both Bunting and Small. All are awaiting extradition to Pinal County.

Bunting was a former Payson High School football star and Small the daughter of a former police officer.

Around 10:30 p.m. Monday, Rubio, Bunting and Small were in an RV in the 500 block of North Gold in Apache Junction with several other men when “a drug transaction went sideways” and shots erupted, said Capt. Thomas Kelly with the Apache Junction Police Department.

Edward L. Reagan Jr., 42, of Apache Junction, and Jamie G. Mountain, 22, of Mesa, were shot multiple times and died on scene.

The RV’s owner, who was watching TV in another room, was uninjured.

Through witness information, Apache Junction police produced a sketch of one of the suspects and sent it to the Payson Police Department. Earlier, investigators had received a tip that one of the suspects lived in the Payson area.

Payson officers recognized Rubio from the sketch.

A group that included officers from the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force, the Apache Junction Police Department, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and the Payson Police Department began a search of the area starting after 3 p.m.

Around 6 p.m. Tuesday, half a dozen unmarked vehicles swarmed around Small’s vehicle at the intersection of Highway 87 and Bonita Street, quickly taking her into custody.

Later that night, police arrested Bunting at his Payson home and Rubio at his Strawberry home.

None resisted arrest, although Bunting and Rubio “needed some encouragement” to come out of their homes, Kelly said.

There was no indication either had plans to flee the area and Kelly said it appears “they thought there were in a safe haven.”

Small formerly worked as a security supervisor in Payson and Bunting was an all-region running back on the 1998 Longhorns football state championship team.

He also represented Payson as a member of the Arizona All-Star football team in Australia.

Kelly said local officers were instrumental in apprehending all three suspects.

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