A 16-year-old boy is in custody of on suspicion of stabbing a Parker High School employee earlier this week. The investigation into the attack has been turned over to the Colorado River Indian Tribes Police.
The suspect’s name has not been released, and other details about the arrest are still sketchy. The victim’s family said they hadn’t yet been contacted by CRIT Police. The victim’s son, Omar Salcedo, said his family was waiting for information, but neither he nor his mother had been contacted by CRIT Police as of 5 p.m. Friday.
“They said they were going to call me soon…I’m still waiting for the call,” he said, adding that his family, who are not tribal members, have never directly dealt with the tribal government in the past.
“I don’t have a good feeling,” he said.
Police say 56-year-old Maria Salcedo was attacked while cleaning a classroom at Parker High School on Tuesday night. The suspect stabbed her four times in the head, neck and shoulder. She was treated at Havasu Regional Medical Center and returned home on Thursday afternoon.
Although the identity and tribal status of the suspect were not officially confirmed by Friday afternoon, officials with the Parker Police Department said CRIT gets jurisdiction on cases that involve enrolled tribal members.
“Because this town sits in the confines of the reservation, anybody who is an enrolled member of any federally recognized tribe, we have no jurisdiction over; it has to be through tribal police,” said Sgt. Mike Bailey of the Parker Police Department, who could not directly comment on the suspect’s tribal status.
“We had to hand him over to CRIT,” he said.
According to Cosme Lopez, spokesman for the District of Arizona’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, all a tribe needs to obtain jurisdiction of a case is an involved party who’s enrolled as a tribal member.
One phone call and an email to reach the Bureau of Indian Affairs for information about tribal jurisdiction were not returned by press time.
The CRIT police department, which arrested the suspect on Thursday around 11 p.m., did not return phone calls.
Multiple phone calls and emails to the tribe’s Attorney General Rebecca Loudbear, Chairman Dennis Patch, Councilmember Amelia Flores and Prosecutor’s officer were also not returned.
Lopez said the case can remain at the tribal level or can be taken to federal court at the tribe’s discretion.
“The tribe is the one that makes the initial decision under the guidance from our office… and they do have federal prosecutors at the tribe,” he said. “They can handle it there and/or they can do a joint effort with us and we can handle it here but I don’t know how they’re going to handle this one.”
Typically, he said, tribal cases involving major crimes are handled at the federal level.
Lopez did not know if the tribe or federal government would be handling the stabbing case and did not know if the case was picked up by his office.
“You’re going to have to get on the tribe to find out what they are going to do,” said Lopez.
Della Vindiola, court clerk at the Parker Magistrate Court, and Tyson Ross, chief probation officer at the La Paz County Probation Department, said their departments were not involved with the case.
“[The suspect] would have been brought over to us if we had jurisdiction,” said Ross about his department. “I can’t really speculate whether he was tribal or not, but the fact that he was not brought over here … the only way CRIT would have jurisdiction, based on where it occurred, was if he was tribal.”
Attempts to reach La Paz County Attorney Tony Rogers for information about this case were not successful.
According to Omar, the suspect’s mother visited his mother, Maria Salcedo, and her family at their home in Parker on Thursday night.
“I asked the mom if we are the first person they ever contacted as far as turning him in, the mom said yes…we respect their decision to come over here,” he said.
Omar said he contacted the Parker Police Department “toward midnight.” Once officers spoke with the suspect’s mother at the victim’s home, were able to arrest the suspect.
The victim and her family said they do not know the mother or suspect personally.
Superintendent James Lotts of the Parker Unified School District could not confirm the identity of the suspect or whether or not he was an enrolled student.
“He was a male juvenile…that’s as far as I’m comfortable with going,” he said.