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Arizona in Brief: Week of Oct. 13, 2017

Cochise County authorities ask ATF to probe City Hall fire

BISBEE (AP) — The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office has asked for federal assistance to investigate a fire at the Bisbee City Hall.

The blaze early Wednesday caused substantial damage to City Hall and its cause is unknown.

Sheriff Mark Dannels says the county asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for help due to the size of City Hall and the damage done.

He says ATF has more assets to devote to the probe and expert personnel who deal with fire investigations as part of their assigned duties.

Dannels says the county’s fire investigator is working with a structural engineer and two ATF agents to determine what equipment and resources will best be utilized.

Bisbee Mayor David Smith says city offices will have to be temporarily relocated due to the fire.

Mother of Arizona House speaker runs for son’s seat

PHOENIX (AP) — The mother of Arizona House Speaker J.D. Mesnard is running for his seat in the legislative chamber as he pursues an open state Senate seat.

Term limits bar Mesnard from running again for re-election to the House, so Chandler City Councilwoman Nora Ellen plans to take the seat, the Arizona Capitol Times reported on Tuesday.

Ellen said people have encouraged her to run for the Legislature and the timing just became right. Ellen is a real estate broker and is serving her second term on the city council in Chandler. The city limits elected officials to two terms.

If Ellen and Mesnard are both elected, the mother and son would serve in the Legislature at the same time.

“Neither one of us planned ages ago that we would be in politics,” Ellen said.

Mesnard is pursuing the seat that will be vacated by Senate President Steve Yarbrough who will reach term limits next year. Mesnard has endorsed his mother to take over his seat.

“I’m glad she’s not running against me. She’d probably beat me,” Mesnard said.

The last lawmaker to serve in the Legislature with a parent was Democratic Minority Leader Rebecca Rios. She once served at the same time as her father, former state Senator Pete Rios.

Information from: Arizona Capitol Times,

Arizona election chief says state not targeted by hackers

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona’s top election official says federal officials have provided no evidence that state elections systems were among those targeted in computer hacking attacks last year widely believed to be connected to the Russian government.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a blog post Thursday that Department of Homeland Security officials could not confirm the state’s election databases or other election systems were targeted. She said last week’s meeting was intended to follow up on Homeland Security notifications that identified Arizona as one of the 21 targeted states.

Reagan spokesman Matt Roberts said last month that federal officials said Arizona systems were targeted in efforts to scan for vulnerabilities.

Thursday’s blog post said the new warning was unrelated to last June’s shutdown of the state’s voter registration database.

Border Patrol agent arrested, accused of lewd acts with teen

AJO (AP) — Pima County Sheriff’s officials say a Border Patrol agent in Arizona has been accused of lewd acts with a teenager in California.

They say 29-year-old Kyle Mrofka was arrested by sheriff’s deputies at the Ajo Station.

The charges were filed by the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office in California. They say the incident occurred in 2013 at the Picacho State Recreation Area and involved a 14-year-old.

Authorities didn’t disclose the gender of the teen.

Mrofka is being held without bond in Pima County Jail on charges of lewd and lascivious acts.

He’s scheduled to appear Nov. 2 before a Tucson judge for an extradition hearing.

Mrofka has worked with the Border Patrol for nine years. He’s suspended indefinitely without pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

Marana police: Officer fatally shoots armed man

MARANA (AP) — Police in Marana have released the name of an armed man who was fatally shot by a police officer responding to a reported domestic dispute.

They say the man has been identified as 43-year-old Brandon Wade Rucker.

Police say officers were dispatched to The Springs apartment complex about 10 p.m. Wednesday.

When officers arrived, they reported being encountered by a man with a firearm.

After a confrontation with the suspect, a police officer opened fire and the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police say detectives have taken over the investigation and are processing the scene.

Court hearing for teen accused of murder to start Nov. 1

PHOENIX (AP) — A preliminary hearing for a 14-year-old boy accused of killing a woman in eastern Arizona has been postponed until next month.

The teen has pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder and burglary.

The boy was charged last week in the killing of TerriLynne Collins. Collins was found dead in her residence in Concho, a small community located 158 miles northeast of Phoenix.

Phoenix-area lawyer Ernest Collins Jr. said his wife was shot in the forehead.

The Apache County Attorney’s Office filed charges last week stating the boy had a handgun, knife and hockey stick during the attack.

Authorities said they took the teen into custody without incident last week.

Collins said he was on the phone with his wife when she was killed during a struggle.

This story has been corrected to report that the hearing is postponed, not resuming.

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