BY LINDA BENTLEY | FEBRUARY 1, 2012
Anthem burglary suspects, others arrested
He also said if it hadn’t been for that burglary and the alarm going off, ‘our deputy would not have been in that parking lot’
PHOENIX – Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies have arrested Shawn Brennan, 23, and Michael Pierce, 33, and booked them into Maricopa County Jail on three counts each of burglary and trafficking in stolen property.
The burglaries included the Jan. 8 burglary, which resulted in the murder of Deputy William Coleman.
MCSO is still investigating whether Drew Maras, who shot and killed Coleman and who was also killed in the shootout, is in any way linked to the burglary or to Brannen and Pierce.
During a press conference held Monday afternoon, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio presented Coleman’s widow Beth with a check for $64,000 raised through donations to the MCSO Memorial Fund for fallen officers.
Acknowledging it would never replace the loss of her husband, Arpaio said he hoped it would help her family.
Stating it doesn’t appear Coleman’s murder and the burglaries are connected, Arpaio said it was likely “a coincidence beyond all coincidences.”
He also said if it hadn’t been for that burglary and the alarm going off, “our deputy would not have been in that parking lot.”
MCSO learned, while investigating burglaries in Anthem, Phoenix police had information about a burglary crew using the same M.O. (modus operandi) to gain entry and targeted the theft of computers and other electronic devices.
Phoenix detectives had surveillance video of two white males wearing hoodie sweatshirts, while a business owner along Carefree Highway near Tramonto provided surveillance video of two white males in hoodies walking around his business just before 3 a.m., which was about an hour before the Anthem burglary call when Coleman was murdered.
On Thursday, Jan. 19 at around 3:30 a.m., MCSO responded to another burglary call at the Fry’s shopping center in Anthem. The alarm activation was from a tax preparation store.
When the owner arrived, he determined a computer and other electronic equipment had been stolen.
Deputies noticed the salon next door also had been broken into and appeared to have been burglarized.
When video surveillance was reviewed at the rear of the business, MCSO determined these were the same two white male subjects, one of which was wearing the same dark logo-emblazoned hoodie as seen in the 25th Avenue and Carefree highway video.
The video showed the suspects entering both businesses by the back doors then leaving quickly while carrying computer equipment from the tax business. They got into what appeared to be 1994-1998 green Chevy S-10 pickup truck.
MCSO made up a flyer with pictures of the suspects and the truck, which it distributed to other jurisdictions.
On Jan. 26, Phoenix detectives located a truck in Phoenix that seemed to match the description in the flyer. It was observed being driven by a male and then parked at a residence.
The man, identified as Pierce, who claimed he was not the registered owner of the truck, was detained due to having a suspended license.
Pierce told MCSO Andrew Sullivan, 30, was the registered owner and that he became friends with Sullivan while they were both at the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC).
During questioning, the detective noticed Pierce was wearing tennis shoes similar or identical to the shoeprint found at the salon in Anthem where the same truck was also sighted.
But when confronted about the shooting of Coleman at the Anthem burglary to which Pierce appeared to be involved, Pierce denied any knowledge that a shooting had occurred and denied knowing Maras or ever talking to him in the parking lot.
Pierce admitted he and an accomplice, who was not Sullivan, committed the Anthem and other burglaries in the valley.
He told detectives how he broke the door handles to gain entry and what was stolen.
Pierce accompanied MCSO and Phoenix detectives to approximately 10 other locations where he admitted he and his accomplice, who was later identified as Brannen, had broken in to steal computers, TVs, cell phones and other electronics.
While Pierce stated most of the stolen goods had been sold, he refused to provide investigators with information regarding locations where items were sold or stored.
When Sullivan was investigated, it was discovered he had a felony warrant from the adult probation department. He was arrested along with his girlfriend, Nicholina Hornstra, 21, who also had a warrant for failure to appear on a shoplifting charge.
Sullivan admitted he was the owner of the truck in the video but said he loaned the truck almost nightly to Pierce and Brannen, whom he said went out almost every night to rob places and they paid him money and gas for letting them use his truck.
Brannen was discovered to also have an outstanding arrest warrant.
Neither Sullivan nor Hornstra claimed to know anything about the shooting and, according to Sullivan, he has never known either Pierce or Brannen to have guns or act violently.
When detectives took Brannen into custody for his warrant and further investigation, Brannen said he wanted a lawyer and questioning ceased.
After executing a search warrant at Brannen’s house, MCSO recovered several electronic items that had damaged or unreadable serial numbers.
Further investigation is underway to determine if those items are linked to the Anthem burglaries or those in other jurisdictions.
Additional charges may be filed by other jurisdictions against Brannen and Pierce for a series of burglaries throughout the valley.
Pierce was paroled from ADC on Nov. 30, 2011 after serving a little over three years of a four-and-a-half-year sentence for forgery, and has a history of theft and dangerous drug convictions.
Brannen was paroled from ADC on April 29, 2011 after serving less than three years of a four-and-a-half-year sentence for marijuana, dangerous drug and paraphernalia violations, as well as forgery and theft of a means of transportation.
He too has a lengthy criminal history involving drugs, burglary, credit card and auto theft.
Brannen is currently being held without bond and is scheduled for a probation revocation hearing on Feb. 3.
Sullivan was paroled from ADC on Nov. 6, 2010 after serving a little over two years of two-and-a-half-year sentence for burglary and a marijuana violation.
Sullivan’s drug violations date back to when he was 16 years old.