Morris Richard Jones III told authorities he always had guns, even when he knew he wasn’t supposed to. Even after going to jail in Oklahoma for a stolen vehicle charge in 2004, Jones didn’t give up the guns.
He admitted to trading crack for guns in Tulsa, scoring a rifle and a handgun, and a stint in federal prison.
He adopted a childhood nickname given to him by his grandfather: Petey Gunn.
He was never charged with gun violence. Corn Friday morning he was shot dead. Police say Jones, 36, sparked a violent confrontation in a southwest Phoenix neighborhood that left nine injured and one woman dead.
Five officers were shot and four others were injured by shrapnel.
Later, when police entered the house, they found Jones dead from a gunshot wound and an unidentified woman seriously injured. She died of her injuries.
In the hours following the shooting, Phoenix police could not provide answers as to why, only what. And even that wasn’t much.
Police released Jones’ name on Friday afternoon but did not provide any information about him.
The Arizona Republic reviewed state and federal court records in Arizona and Oklahoma of a man with the same first, middle and last name and who was the same age as the person whom the police called “the shooter”.
These files offer only sketchy details about Jones’ past as a father of four and a self-proclaimed member of the Crips street gang. But they paint a clear picture of his criminal journey from Tulsa to Phoenix.
His Oklahoma Department of Corrections mugshot from 2004, when Jones was still a teenager, shows him in a bland khaki jumpsuit against a bland khaki wall. His hair and goatee are cut close.
The stats accompanying the photo describe him as 5-foot-3, 172 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. His arm, with the large “107” tattoo declaring his membership in the Hoover Crips Gang, is not visible.
Records indicate that Jones received a three-year sentence for the stolen vehicle charge. He was released in 2005 after one year. But he kept bouncing in and out of custody.
Court records show that later in 2005, Jones fled from police during a raid on a home and officers said they saw him abandon a bag of marijuana. In 2006, police said he was the victim of a drive-by shooting, but he refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Three times in 2006, Tulsa police said, Jones fled in officers’ vehicles.
The first time, the car they were chasing slowed down long enough for the passenger to get out. Police said the passenger was arrested with a bag of cocaine and a gun. The passenger was a 12-year-old boy. He said Jones gave him the drugs and the gun. Jones fled.
The second time, police say Jones jumped out of the vehicle he was driving. The passenger, a fellow Hoover Crips member, told police that Jones was carrying a silver semi-automatic handgun. Jones fled.
The third time, Jones did not escape, according to court records.
Federal agents went to his apartment to execute a search warrant. They were looking for weapons and drugs. They said he spotted them, ran off and drove away. Tulsa police followed and called a helicopter. Jones couldn’t outrun them.
Just before his arrest, officers said he had dropped a loaded gun. They said he resisted arrest, so they pepper sprayed him.
Jones still had the empty holster on his belt when they handcuffed him, according to court records. Inside Jones’ apartment, officers found a .22 caliber revolver and a large number of bullets for various weapons.
Jones was charged with felony possession of a firearm. A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent said Jones agreed to be interviewed and immediately proclaimed, “I’m guilty.”
Jones told officers he was trading crack cocaine for guns, ATF agent Josh Petree wrote in a 2006 affidavit.
“Before he was arrested, he was on his way to buy more ‘crack’ to sell with the $100 he had in his pocket,” Petree wrote.
“Jones further indicated that he got his nickname (Petey Gunn) from his grandfather when he was young and always loved and had guns even though he knew he was a criminal. convicted and he wasn’t supposed to have them,” Petree wrote. .
A grand jury indicted Jones in 2007. He initially said he wanted to take the case to court, but later pleaded guilty. A judge gave him consecutive sentences; 60 months on one charge, 20 months on another.
Jones argued in 2008 that he got a raw deal and asked the court to overturn his convictions. His first appeal was unsuccessful and he tried again in 2009. He argued that under the law he was “innocent of the crime to which he pleaded guilty because dealing drugs for a firearm does not constitute “the use” of the weapon.
The United States Court of Appeals disagreed. Jones served his sentence and was released on probation in 2014, but not for long.
The drugs kept giving him trouble.
For two years, Jones alternated between probation and prison due to his drug use. In 2016, a judge sentenced him to four years in prison. Records show he was released in 2019.
Between two stints in prison, Jones fathered four children, now aged around 7, 9, 15 and 18, according to court records.
The Republic has contacted Jones’ family for comment but has not received a response.
It’s unclear why Jones moved to Phoenix or exactly when. He was living here in 2020 when he was arrested on suspicion of transporting undocumented immigrants from Mexico to the United States.
Border Patrol agents arrested Jones and a woman in a Ford F-150 near San Simon in Cochise County, court records show. There were three passengers in the back seat who told officers they were from Mexico and Peru.
The woman told officers that Jones had agreed to pick up the undocumented immigrants and take them to a prearranged location in Phoenix. Jones pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge and was released on parole pending sentencing.
In July 2020, Jones asked the court for permission to travel to Tulsa for a birthday party. He wanted to party there with his four children. A judge said OK.
A month later, Jones dodged jail time. He was sentenced to 36 months probation for smuggling. He had been free for less than a year.
In May, Jones tested positive for cocaine and was back in court. In September, Jones was sentenced to five months in prison followed by three years probation.
It was not immediately clear when Jones was released. But he soon picked up a gun. For the last time.
Robert Anglen is an investigative journalist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-8694. Follow him on Twitter @robertanglen.
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