A 20-year-old Phoenix, Arizona man is facing murder charges after he shot and killed 10-year-old Summer Bell Brown during a road rage incident on April 3. Joshua Gonzalez has been charged with one count of murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and one count of tampering or altering physical evidence.
Here’s what you need to know about the Joshua Gonzalez road rage case.
1. Gonzalez Attacked the Family in Their Driveway
Dharquintium and Taniesha Brown had just picked up their daughters Summer Bell and her sister Autumn at the Boys and Girls Club and were returning home around 5:30 p.m. when Summer Bell’s father cut Gonzalez off in traffic. He suddenly noticed Gonzalez tailing the family car closely. “(Gonzalez) decided to ride my bumper so I pressed the brake so he could back up off my bumper,” Dharquintium Brown recalled. This led to Gonzalez following the Brown’s back to their home, where he pulled up behind their car in the driveway.
Dharquintium Brown got out of the car to confront Gonzalez, who began to fire his gun. “(Gonzalez) was ready to start shooting. I got out of my vehicle and I asked him ‘What’s up?’ and he got to firing,” he explained.
Summer Bell’s mother, Taniesha, describes Gonzalez as appearing “deranged” with dilated eyes. “As soon as I looked at him and his eyes, he just went ‘boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,’ through the car…he shot through his door,” she revealed.
Summer Bell, who’d been sleeping in the back seat, was pronounced dead at the hospital. Dharquintium Brown was also struck by a bullet but did not suffer life-threatening injuries. Taniesha and the Brown’s older daughter Autumn, 12, were uninjured.
2. Gonzalez Has a Lengthy Criminal History
During a joint press conference held on April 5, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams acknowledged that Gonzalez was well known to local law enforcement. “I do know that he has an extended criminal history with our department. He does have a history of violence so those are critical key points for us,” she said, however, no specific information regarding Gonzalez’s previous criminal background was provided. AZFamily.com reported that Gonzalez was arrested for Extreme DUI and weapon charges in 2018 when police found an AK47, a rifle, a shotgun, and two handguns in his vehicle.
At his arraignment, prosecutors described the gravity of his crime and stated that Gonzalez was a flight risk. “I have considered your criminal and juvenile history and the weight of the evidence alleged against you….weighing all of those factors the court does believe that you pose a substantial potential risk of danger to persons in the community and a potential flight risk,” an unidentified court commissioner said. A $1 million cash bond was set.
3. Surveillance Video Helped Catch Gonzalez
Investigators were able to locate surveillance video that confirmed the Brown’s account of Gonzalez tailing their car just before the shooting. The video shows a white Ford F-150 with brown trim and damage along the side.
Details of the crime, the surveillance video and a composite sketch of the suspect were posted on Facebook and shared more than 4,000 times. A tip received by investigators led them to Gonzalez’s home, approximately five miles from the crime scene. “Everyone had their eyes out and were giving us plenty of information,” Phoenix Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Vince Lewis said.
4. Gonzalez Altered His Truck to Avoid Detection
After receiving a tip that Gonzalez may have been the shooter, law enforcement went to his home and discovered the Ford F-150’s tires and wheels had been changed to alter its appearance.”Police investigators identified the truck as the same vehicle used in the crime even after modifications were actively made to change the vehicle’s appearance,” Sgt. Lewis said.
When police obtained a search warrant and entered Gonzalez’s home, they discovered the wheels and tires seen in the video along with a gun that was matched forensically to the crime scene.
5. A GoFundMe Page Has Been Created for the Family
A GoFundMe page was created for the Brown family on April 4 to help with Summer Bell’s funeral expenses. Since April 4, the site has raised $20,794, with compassionate donors continuing to contribute to defray other family expenses. Several local fundraisers and a vigil have also been held in Summer Bell Brown’s memory.
Holdeman Elementary School in Tempe sent students home with a note about their former classmate that read,” Summer died suddenly yesterday evening. For those of you who knew Summer and her family, we ask that you remember and celebrate Summer’s laugh, smile and personality.”