Phoenix police: Around 250 people gather for street racing meetup

Posted 4/7/20

Around 250 people were at the site of a street racing meetup over the weekend in far west Phoenix.

So much for social distancing.

The incident happened around 10 p.m. Sunday, April 6 at the …

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Phoenix police: Around 250 people gather for street racing meetup

Posted

Around 250 people were at the site of a street racing meetup over the weekend in far west Phoenix.

So much for social distancing.

The incident happened around 10 p.m. Sunday, April 6 at the Home Depot near 99th Avenue and Camelback Road.

According to court documents, a large group went to the Home Depot and reportedly took part in various crimes from reckless driving stunts, street racing, and trespassing. Phoenix police state a group of 250+ participants took over the parking lot, established a pit with their vehicles, and watched or performed high-speed vehicle drifts, rotational burnouts, and excessive tire squealing.

At least two vehicles, a GMC Sierra and a Corvette, were seen performing stunts, records state. Police noted the truck had been involved in a prior intersection takeover March 30 near 59th Avenue and Roosevelt Street.

Officers on Sunday tried to stop the truck, following it along with an air unit. The vehicle stopped in the area of Osborn Road and 84th Lane, where the driver was taken into custody.

The driver was identified as Michael Valles Jr., 35, according to court documents. Mr. Valles was booked on suspicion of reckless driving, drug possession, unlawful flight and weapons misconduct. He was released on his own recognizance with a court date April 23.

Independent Newsmedia reached out to the Phoenix Police Department to see if any other people were cited or arrested.

Phoenix police and other agencies have been trying to crack down on illegal street racing meetups since 2019. Officers have responded to several meetups in the Laveen, Avondale and central Phoenix areas since at least October.

The Governor's Office of Highway Safety recently awarded Phoenix police $100,000 for a street racers task force. The objective of the task force is to reduce reckless activities associated with street racing groups. Those activities include underage drinking, reckless driving/aggravated driving, racing, DUI, unlawful flight, and obstructing roadways and freeways.

On Jan. 17, Phoenix police said officers had issued more than 400 citations as of that date, resulting in more than 1,000 violations.

On Friday, April 3, Department of Public Safety troopers observed two drivers trying to race at speeds near 90 mph on Interstate 17 near Indian School Road. Both drivers were stopped and taken into custody, and the vehicles were towed, DPS stated in a release.

DPS says the GOHS awarded them a $30,000 funding increase to boost street racing enforcement on highways in the metro Phoenix area. The new funding is an add-on to a $244,280 grant awarded in December 2019 for the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program & Materials.

"Street racing on highways is dangerous for everyone on the road, including both racers and the motoring public," DPS states. "The high speeds often associated with racing increase the risk of serious injury or death in a collision."

In February, an 18-year-old Buckeye man was killed on State Route 51 as a result of a suspected street racing incident, according to DPS. While the case remains under investigation, DPS hopes that with the additional enforcement, they can minimize the chance of these tragedies occurring.

Also that month, Arizona Sen. Paul Boyer introduced SB 1659, which calls for stricter penalties, including impoundment and a $1,000 fine. The bill also proposed the creation of the Drag Racing Prevention Enforcement Fund, which will provide additional resources to local law enforcement agencies.