A Bowie man accused of shooting another man in the chest with a rifle after running over his fence on the evening of Aug. 1 will be back in Cochise County Superior Court on Sept. 21 for a pretrial conference.
Roger Lee Dalton was arrested and booked into the Cochise County jail Aug. 3, two days after he allegedly shot Israel Tapia from inside a pickup truck stopped near Tapia’s residence. He is being held in the Cochise County jail on a no-bail order and is set for trial starting Dec. 15.
Dalton was later indicted on five felonies, including attempted second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and disorderly conduct with a weapon. He is also known as Roger Cain or Roger Kain.
Court records show that after Tapia was shot in the left upper chest area, he walked into his residence where he stopped breathing after telling his live-in girlfriend he was shot by a Caucasian male with a distinctive facial tattoo. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) responded to the remote area with support from U.S. Border Patrol and Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Tapia, 40, was transported from the scene by the Bowie Fire Department to the Northern Cochise Community Hospital in Willcox, from which he was airlifted to Banner UMC in Tucson. As of Sept. 8, the public court file contains no further information as to his condition.
But the court file does include several details about the shooting not revealed by CCSO in a press statement announcing Dalton’s arrest.
According to an affidavit submitted by CCSO Det. Joseph Gilbert in support of a search warrant, Tapia’s girlfriend said she was sitting inside the house while Tapia worked on the swamp cooler outside. She recalled hearing a vehicle drive-by and “loud vehicle exhaust,” but did not see the vehicle nor hear a shot, she told Gilbert.
The court file also reveals the presence of Stephen Vega in a red and white truck driven by Dalton the night of the shooting. Vega, who lives in nearby San Simon, told detectives the day after the shooting that Dalton drove the truck into Tapia’s fence while trying to back out of an alley.
“(Vega) reported (Tapia) confronted them and Roger grabbed a rifle from inside the truck,” Gilbert wrote in his affidavit. “(Vega) said he too grabbed the rifle telling Roger ‘no don’t.’ (Vega) told detectives at one point the rifle barrel was point at his own body so he fled the vehicle on foot.”
According to Vega’s statement, Tapia was struggling with Dalton for the rifle. Vega said he then heard one shot and left the area.
Detective found shell casings at the entrance of the alley next to Tapia’s property, as well as blood droplets and .22 caliber bullets in the area. They also found blood splatter on the Tapia’s front porch, wooden railing, walls, and ground near his house.
On Aug. 2, deputies located a red and white Ford pickup in front of a residence on West Kinchilla Street. It was only one-half mile from Tapia’s house. A search warrant was obtained after a female resident would not consent to a warrantless search.
While executing the warrant, Det. J.C. Hoke recovered a .22 rifle from a bedroom. He also took swabs of what appeared to be dried blood on the truck’s driver-side doors and seized an unfired .22 bullet from the truck’s front floorboard. The bullet was later matched to those found at the crime scene.
Then on Aug. 3, detectives were able to briefly interview Tapia at the hospital. He confirmed many of the details provided by Vega.
That same day CCSO received a tip that Dalton was inside an abandoned travel trailer in the Bowie area. Dalton complied with commands to exit the structure and was arrested without incident.
Rodrigo Andrade of the Cochise County Legal Advocates Office is Dalton’s court-appointed attorney, while Michael Powell of the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is prosecuting the case assigned to Judge Timothy Dickerson.
According to Gilbert, CCSO detectives executed a search warrant at Tapia’s home the day after the shooting for reasons unrelated to his shooting.
Gilbert notes that the first deputies on scene performed a safety check of the residence when they noticed what appeared to be a marijuana growing operation in one of the rooms. Nearly four dozen marijuana plants were seized, including some found in the yard.
Several of the seized plants were nearly seven feet tall, a search warrant affidavit states. As of press time there is no public record of criminal charges being filed in connection to the marijuana plants found in Tapia’s house.