crash

A vehicle is removed after a crash June 10 that killed an Amado tow truck driver and a customer in Tucson. 

Tucson police said a Tucson man accused of killing an Amado tow truck driver in June is a drug dealer and they have obtained indictments against three of his associates after an investigation involving anonymous tips, a tracking device and cell phone text records.

New information about the June 28 arrest of Justin Lang, 32, are found in a 300-page TPD report released this week. The report details the night of the crash and the  investigation.

On June 10, a Pima County Sheriff's Department deputy began following a 2001 BMW around 10 p.m. after seeing it "peel out" of a business near Fairview Avenue and Prince Road in Tucson. Before the deputy could pull it over, the driver of the BMW turned onto West Simmons Road and accelerated.

The car was traveling in excess of 70 mph when the deputy saw it cross Oracle Road and slam into tow truck driver Rick Struble, 57, of Amado and his customer, Ramon Murillo III, 32, as they were standing in the parking lot of a Discount Tire. Murillo died at the scene and Struble died shortly after arriving at a hospital.

The deputy, who surveillance tapes show arrived on scene within 12 seconds, and other witnesses saw the driver of the BMW, later identified as Lang, jump over a fence into an apartment complex. According to the report, police found a stolen Smith & Wesson handgun near where Lang was last seen. They also found a cell phone and a green backpack in the BMW containing baggies of methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine.

Another deputy working that night heard the license plate of the BMW and realized he'd run it 40 minutes earlier after spotting the driver talking with a man in the parking lot of a smoke shop near North Flowing Wells and West Roger roads. Officers obtained video surveillance from the smoke shop and distributed photos taken from the video to other officers. Lang was immediately recognized by an officer who had recently received a tip that Lang was dealing drugs from a home on East 33rd Street in Tucson, according to the report.

A search of the home on June 16 failed to turn up Lang, but a woman in the home acknowledged the BMW was hers and she'd let Lang use it. Police also searched the homes of other Lang associates and family members in the coming days but didn't find him.

Anonymous tips

On June 20 and June 21, police began receiving anonymous tips stating Lang sold drugs for Jesse "Guero" Castro, 35, and Castro had hidden Lang at his home for about a week, but ended up moving him because Lang's girlfriend kept visiting the home.

The tipsters said that Logan Gonzalez, 29, picked up Lang at an Eegee's near the crash scene June 10, and had moved him to another safe house and was bringing him "dope," clothes and food. The callers told police they believed Lang had suffered a broken nose in the crash.

The tipsters also gave police the name of Gonzalez's girlfriend, Ishbel Gonzalez Alves, 24, according to the report. When police obtained video from the Eegee's and nearby businesses, they noted that a Kia Soul registered to Alves had pulled into the parking lot just before the crash. The videos shows the vehicle left right after the first deputy arrived, using the exit directly overlooking the accident site.

Police obtained cell phone records and text messages between Alves and Gonzalez that they said indicated they knew Lang was wanted and his whereabouts. According to reports, Alves said she would trade in her car if police found out Gonzalez used it to pick up Lang. She also said she felt bad for Lang because he "was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Police obtained a warrant and put a tracking device on the Kia on June 25. 

On June 28, a tipster told police they'd received a call from Lang and the call was tracked to a home on East 30th Street in Tucson. According to reports, a detective called the home without identifying himself and was told Lang would be back within an hour.

Lang was arrested at the home about an hour later after being dropped off by someone in the Kia. A SWAT team handled the arrest because tipsters told police Lang had said he wouldn't go back to prison and he'd shoot officers or force them to shoot him.

Lang, whose nose appeared bruised, told an officer he was glad it was over so he could "finally relax," according to reports. 

More searches

That same day, police conducted searches at two other Tucson homes associated with Gonzalez and Castro. They found several pounds of methamphetamine, heroin, nearly $20,000 in cash and weapons, drug scales and other drug paraphernalia. Among the weapons were an AR15 and a Remington bolt action rifle stolen in a burglary in an ATF case, according to reports.

Gonzalez, who was arrested at one of the homes, admitted to helping Lang. On the night of the crash, Gonzalez said Lang only told him that he'd wrecked the car. He didn't learn about the deaths until he saw news reports, he said.

Castro was arrested at one of the homes bleeding profusely from a hand. Authorities believe he cut himself after flushing several bricks of methamphetamine and while stuffing the wrappings under a sink.

Alves, a Vail School District employee and U.S. Air Force reservist, was arrested at Reid Park Zoo while on a field trip with students July 5.

More charges

According to court records, Lang was originally facing two counts of manslaughter. He now faces two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of possession of narcotic drugs for sale, and one count each of failure to stay at an accident involving death, criminal damage of more than $10,000, possession of dangerous drugs for sale, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a weapon by a prohibited possessor, possessing a weapon during a drug offense, and unlawful flight from a law enforcement vehicle.

Gonzalez is facing two counts of trafficking in stolen property, two counts of theft and a charge of hindering prosecution. Castro is charged with possession of dangerous drugs for sale, possession or use of a weapon in a drug offense, tampering with physical evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia. Alves was indicted on one count of hindering prosecution.

According to the Arizona Department of Corrections, Lang was released from prison in November in an aggravated assault case and a warrant was issued for his arrest Feb. 25, after he absconded while on parole.

Lang was sentenced to five years in prison in November 2014, after pleading guilty to aggravated assault. According to court records, Lang shot a man in the knee because he believed he'd been given salt instead of methamphetamine during a $450 drug deal at a motel on North Oracle Road. Lang told a probation officer he intended to shoot a mattress and not the drug dealer. Lang has also spent time in prison for stealing a car and for a drug violation, ADOC records show.

Kim Smith | 520-547-9740

Assistant Editor Kim Smith moved to Arizona from Michigan when she was 16. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism in 1989. She has worked at seven newspapers of varying size in Arizona, Texas and Nevada.

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