Homeland Security official dead in Tucson

This is definitely strange:

FOX 11 News has learned that one of the highest ranking Homeland Security officials in Arizona is dead.

Thomas DeRouchey, interim director of the ICE office in Phoenix, was found dead. But mystery surrounds his death and both local and federal agencies are saying little.

Thomas DeRouchey, interim special agent in charge of the Phoenix Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was on the way to an announcement of a new federal border initiative by Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Asa Hutchinson at Davis Monthan Air Force Base.

DeRouchey was found dead in his car on Interstate 10...

"The firefighters did find him in a car in the median and he was deceased," said Katie Heiden, a spokesperson for Northwest Fire in Tucson.

Heiden confirmed that DeRouchey was alone in the car and a weapon was found in the car...

ICE spokesperson Russell Ahr told the Associated Press that DeRouchey's death occurred in a "one vehicle accident", but local paramedics say they responded to a call of "gun shots" and not an accident. Ahr claimed there was damage to DeRouchey's vehicle.

DeRouchey had been a federal agent since 1988. He was named interim head of the Phoenix office of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office last summer...

He had conducted several recent raids of illegal alien "drophouses" as part of Operation ICE Storm, which was designed to combat illegal alien smuggling.

According to the Arizona Republic:

Virginia Kice, an ICE spokeswoman, said the circumstances surrounding DeRouchey's death are under investigation. The Marana Police Department, however, ruled his death a suicide.

Witnesses saw DeRouchey's government-issued Chrysler Concord swerve out of control about 8:35 a.m. and slam into a median guardrail on I-10 near Tangerine Road in Marana, northwest of Tucson, said Sgt. Tim Brunenkant, a Marana police spokesman.

Marana investigators say DeRouchey apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head, Brunenkant said. Police did not recover a suicide note from the vehicle, he said.

Now stop that! Laughing at the Marana Police Department is not allowed here.

How about a more realistic explanation? He was engaged in a car-to-car gun battle. If he shot his gun it was at the other car; if he has a self-inflicted wound it was an accidental side-effect of the gun battle. Another possibility is that he was run off the road, shot, and the gun was planted.

Or, someone was in the car with him, either someone he trusted or a kidnapper of some kind.

Or, it could have been an accident, but wouldn't the wound be somewhere other than his head in that case?

I rather doubt that many people have committed suicide while driving down the freeway.

There's more on the Marana PD here:

"A most unusual investigation of a most unusual police department. Cavanaugh began his investigation after a patron of the New West Nightclub, where nearly every member of the Marana Police Department - including the chief - had moonlighted at one time or another, was killed by bouncers. Although authorities ruled the death occurred accidentally as the man was being restrained, witness accounts, as well as 52 injuries on the victim's body, raise the possibility that it was murder. Using this case as a window into the workings of the local police, Cavanaugh dug for 18 months, examining thousands of pages of documents and developing dozens of sources inside the department and out. The result: an intermittent series that paints a shocking picture of unsavory associations, conflicts of interest, plummeting morale, incompetence, favoritism, witnesses intimidation, and an atmosphere of distrust so severe that officers sometimes felt it necessary to conceal investigative files from their chief. Although most of Cavanaugh's sources inside the department unfortunately but understandably insisted on remaining anonymous, their accounts are nevertheless convincing both because of their consistency and the way in which they are supported by documents and named sources. Cavanaugh tells his story in a vivid narrative that is fascinating even to this reader living 3,000 miles away. It is a rare investigative story that is both a compelling read and a valuable public service..."

That article appears to be from 2002, because on February 4, 2004 the following article appeared:

A year ago, the Marana Police Department was in far different shape than it's in today.

The department's chief, David R. Smith, had resigned amid questions over the handling of a homicide investigation.

Shortly after that, a state audit showed staff members had low morale and worried about inadequate training and a lack of communication within the department.

Turning around the employees' outlook and the department's public reputation were big priorities for Richard Vidaurri when he took over as chief of police last February, he said. Today, he feels he's well on his way to meeting that goal.

Oh my.


My uncles death is still a mystery