Mesa police arrest teen in death of girlfriend's mom - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa police arrest teen in death of girlfriend's mom

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  • Mesa shooting

    Mesa police search a neighborhood for a suspect in east Mesa while investigating the shooting of a 42-year-old woman on Monday, August 15, 2011. The woman was shot at a residence in the 8500 block of East Meseto. [Tim Hacker/ Tribune]

Posted: Monday, August 15, 2011 4:09 pm | Updated: 2:06 pm, Wed Aug 17, 2011.

Police say a 16-year-old boy who forced his way into an east Mesa home on Monday and shot a 42-year-old woman in the head went there planning to kill his girlfriend and then himself.

Instead, police say, he ended up killing his girlfriend’s mother, Denna Strebe, who had forbidden him to see her 18-year-old daughter. Police say the gun went off after she answered the door, when Braden Matthew Rockriver pointed it at her and she wrestled with him.

For the nature of the crime and his age, Rockriver will be tried as an adult on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and domestic violence, according to information from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. He could face up to life in prison if convicted on the murder charge.

Rockriver was charged on Tuesday through a formal complaint filed by the county attorney’s office and was transported from the Maricopa County Juvenile Detention Center to the Fourth Avenue Jail.

Rockriver does not have a criminal history, but the girl’s family had prohibited him from being on their property.

Mesa police say Rockriver lifted the garage door and knocked on the service door to the home inside the garage; Strebe answered it and Rockriver forced his way in.

Strebe, a wife, mother of four and a well-liked member of the Hawes stake of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in Mesa, was pronounced dead at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital.

Dozens of police converged at the Strebe home in the Lesueur Estates neighborhood shortly after 2:45 p.m. Monday in the 8500 block of East Meseto after the shooter fled the scene. After shooting Strebe, police say Rockriver tried to run into his girlfriend’s bedroom, but he encountered her brother and had a physical altercation with him before Strebe’s husband woke up and managed to take the gun away. Moments later he discovered his wife’s body on the laundry room floor. The shooter was able to escape through a bedroom window, police said.

Police arrested Rockriver at his friend’s apartment in the 7100 block of East Superstition Springs Boulevard.

Earlier in the day, when Rockriver took the pistol from his father’s closet, the weapon discharged as he was trying to load it, causing a bullet to go into the bedroom wall, according to police.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or

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