Ricardo Sanchez-Mendoza and Angel Gabriel Ortega Romero, both 18, have been charged with felonies ranging from aggravated assault to assisting a criminal street gang, according to court documents filed Thursday. A 17-year-old was also involved in the incident, but police are withholding his identity because he is a minor.
It was the first time CT, 33, had visited Phoenix’s Encanto Park, where he wanted to take landscape photos because of its lake, he told local TV station ABC 15. He documented his evening on Facebook Live.
A group of young men asked the freelance photographer whether he could take their picture.
“I charge 20 bucks, man,” he told the group before eventually taking the picture free of charge, according to ABC 15. He directed them to pose and captured a group picture of the three.
The encounter soured when one of the teens used the n-word, according to video of the incident obtained by ABC 15.
“My man, I told you you can’t say the n-word; you’re not black,” he tells one of the teens as one of the suspects moves closer into his camera phone’s frame. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t say the n-word’? Didn’t I say that?”
Before CT could complete his next sentence, shots rang out, and his camera tumbled to the ground, video showed. The suspects fled the scene.
CT was able to dial emergency services. “Hey, I just got shot,” he told the dispatcher. He had wounds to his legs, arm, wrist, shoulder and hip. He was taken to a hospital with critical wounds, according to police.
Police issued vague descriptions of the young men, but it was CT’s own images that helped authorities find the three suspects, according to Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department.
Mendoza-Sanchez was arrested Sept. 17 in the shooting and additionally charged with possession or use of marijuana when he was captured by authorities. His bond was set at $500,000, according to court records. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday.
Romero was arrested eight days later along with the 17-year-old, according to police. Romero was indicted on felony charges that included resisting arrest and misconduct involving weapons. Romero and the minor were both armed at the time of the arrest, according to police. Romero tried to draw his weapon but police said arresting officers were able to get the firearm from him. Using search warrants, detectives confiscated four handguns, a bulletproof vest and a small amount of methamphetamine.
Romero’s bond was set for $500,000, according to court documents. He is scheduled to answer his indictment Thursday.
The two identified men are accused of committing the assault in connection to their association with the Hollywood 39th Avenue gang, a criminal organization in the area, according to court documents.
CT is expected to make a full recovery, according to ABC 15.
He did not return requests for comment. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help him with his medical expenses.