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Updated Aug 20, 2013 - 5:09 pm

Reward offered in murder of MCSO detention officer

A composite sketch of the suspect is shown. (Photo: Phoenix Police Department)

PHOENIX -- A reward up to $1,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest or indictment of a man suspected of gunning down a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detention officer.

"We don't know who the suspect is," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Darren Burch with Silent Witness. "We don't have a clue. We are following up on leads obviously, but we really do need the community's help."

Burch said there is a sense of urgency to catch the suspect, especially given the blatant nature of the crime.

"If they can target a law enforcement official, they can do this to anyone," said Burch.

Jorge Vargas was 27 when he was killed near 89th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump said someone was spotted running from the scene around the same time when neighbors heard shots. The eight-year sheriff's office veteran was shot while standing in his driveway.

Burch said there is a sense of urgency to catch the suspect, especially given the blatant nature of the crime.

"If they can target a law enforcement official, they can do this to anyone," said Burch.

Neighbors called 911 after hearing gunfire. The officer died in a local hospital.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Vargas worked for the Sheriff's Office Custody Support Bureau in the jail's food factory, but he often came into contact with inmates.

He wouldn't speculate about whether Vargas' killing may have been related to his work, but said his office was assisting Phoenix police in the investigation, including gathering intelligence from the jails

"It's really going to affect the family he has in the sheriff's office as well as in law enforcement, but that's not going to stop us from trying to find this person and prosecute this person to the full extent (of the law)," said MCSO Sgt. Brandon Jones.

Vargas left behind a wife and a 5-year-old child.

Silent Witness has reached out to several local billboard companies and they have donated time and space to help catch the suspect. Billboards all over the Valley, with a strong focus in the West Valley, will feature a composite sketch of the possible killer.

"We're hoping someone might see the billboard, may know Jorge and could help us identify this suspect," said Burch.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to contact Silent Witness at (480) WITNESS.

KTAR's Bob McClay and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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About the Author


Sandra moved from the small border city of Yuma, Arizona to study Broadcast Journalism at Arizona State University in the late 90s. Since graduating, she's worked at several local TV stations including Univision, Fox 10 and 3TV.

Working at KTAR, has allowed her the opportunity to cover major national news events, including Presidential visits, the Tucson Tragedy and the Wallow fire.

When Sandra isn't covering breaking news or behind a microphone in the studio, she's probably at home with her best friend Mark and her two dogs, Lily and Lola.

Sandra enjoys cooking and admits to enjoying "really bad" reality T.V. She also enjoys spending quiet time at home with people she loves, playing a little poker and traveling.

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