Mesa council candidate JT Ready bought some cat litter at Wal-Mart and was driving to a friend’s house about 1 a.m. Thursday when he noticed Hispanic men dressed like “gang-bangers” acting “suspiciously.”
The encounter escalated into gunfire between Ready — armed with a .38 Special revolver — and another man with a gas-powered BB gun that looked like a semiautomatic handgun, according to Ready and police.
No one was injured. Mesa police arrested Eduardo Godina near Broadway Road and Stapley Drive on suspicion of two misdemeanors — threatening and intimidating, and assault. Ready is not facing charges.
Eileen Rogers heard the commotion on Temple Street south of Broadway and opened her front door.
“I was scared to death,” said Rogers, who has a campaign sign for Ready’s opponent Councilman Kyle Jones in her front yard. “I’m glad everything turned out OK but he probably should have called police . . . instead of taking care of it himself.”
In the District 4 City Council race, Ready is challenging Jones, Pat Esparza and Ilias Kostopoulos. The election is Tuesday.
Ready’s campaign message has centered on his opposition to the proposed city property tax and illegal immigration, which he says has led to increased crime and an overall decline in his district, which includes downtown and areas south.
Ready, a member of the Minuteman Project who patrolled the U.S-Mexico border last year, said he expects he will be viewed favorably by voters for getting involved.
“My conscience wouldn’t allow me to sit back and say it’s not my problem,” the former Marine said.
Jones, meanwhile, arrived in Washington D.C. on Thursday to attend meetings of the National League of Cities Special Task Force for Immigration Reform, of which he is a member. Jones, who is scheduled to visit the White House today, said he is working to change the immigration problem through political means, not by being a vigilante.
“It’s like he wants to go play ‘Army Man,’ ” Jones said. “It definitely would concern me.”
Ready held a news conference Thursday to tell what happened. He said he noticed Hispanic men jumping fences and hiding behind bushes and vehicles with their lights off in a neighborhood near Broadway and Horne.
When one vehicle drove away, Ready followed. While on the phone with police, Ready said he was trying to see the license plate. The vehicle turned from Broadway south on Temple Street and reached a dead end.
Pulling up behind was Ready. A man got out of the vehicle, approached Ready and pulled a gun, according to Ready’s account and police documents.
Ready, a concealed weapons instructor, said he tried to drive away. He said he jumped out of his car and fired his gun once. He told police he was shot at once with what police later described as a “gaspowered BB gun that resembled a semiautomatic handgun.” The shooter fled.
“I thought I was dead,” Ready said.
Godina, 32, who had no legal identification, was arrested and booked into Madison Street Jail in Phoenix. His preliminary hearing is March 20 in Mesa City Court.
Ready said he often drives around late at night to make sure his roughly 300 campaign signs have not been damaged.