Suspect Montano, 19, arrested on charge of impersonating a peace officer, PCSO says

Michael Montano, 19, of San Tan Valley, was arrested and booked into the Pinal County Sheriff’s Jail on the charges of impersonating a peace officer and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony offense, according to a press release from the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect’s vehicle and a 9 mm handgun were seized and placed into evidence, according to the release.

At 8:33 a.m. Friday, July 10, the PCSO 9-1-1 Communications Center received a call from an individual reporting that somebody was impersonating a peace officer and conducting traffic stops on Ironwood Road in San Tan Valley. Deputies met with the reporting party and the alleged suspect behind the Chevron Gas Station at Ironwood and Ocotillo, San Tan Valley, PCSO said.

The suspect vehicle was a 2015 Ford Focus. The vehicle had emergency red and blue LED lights located inside of the rear window, inside of the front windshield near the passenger side visor and in the front grill. The vehicle was also equipped with a siren and PA system, all of which were operational, PCSO said.

The reporting party told deputies he was traveling southbound on Ironwood and saw the suspect vehicle come up behind him with the red and blue emergency lights activated. The reporting party realized he was speeding and thought he was being stopped by a deputy, so he started to pull over. The suspect vehicle then drove past him and got behind a red in color passenger car driven by a young female with blonde hair. The red car began to pull over at which time the reporting party saw temporary registration on the supposed law enforcement vehicle. The reporting party was concerned that it was not a real police officer because of the temporary registration, so he pulled behind the vehicle as it was attempting to make the traffic stop, PCSO said.

The supposed law enforcement vehicle then passed the red car and continued southbound until it pulled in behind the Chevron Gas Station. The reporting party confronted the driver of the supposed law enforcement officer and asked him if he was “a cop.” The driver said, “I got this” as he lifted his shirt and showed the reporting party a 9 mm handgun concealed in the top of his pants. The reporting party walked to the rear of the supposed law enforcement vehicle and removed the temporary registration and called 9-1-1, PCSO said.

“This is especially concerning since our Sheriff’s Office legitimately uses unmarked sedans and Tahoes for our detectives and for traffic enforcement. Michael Montano admitted to deputies that he installed the emergency red and blue lights along with the siren and PA system on his vehicle four days prior. He admitted to using the emergency lights in his vehicle so that people would pull over thinking they were being stopped by law enforcement. Deputies are trying to locate the driver of the red passenger car and any other possible victims that may have been stopped by Montano. In the movie ‘Let’s be Cops’ people thought it was funny, Montano will soon learn the realities of his actions were not funny and will come with steep consequences,” PCSO Sheriff Paul Babeu said in the release.

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