County attorney won't send murder suspect to New York, accused of 'political games'

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Prosecutors in Maricopa County and New York City tried to score political points on Wednesday over custody of a man accused of violent crimes in both areas.

Rachel Mitchell, Maricopa County attorney, threw the first punch.

A 26-year-old man suspected of stabbing a woman in the bathroom of a local McDonald's —who also is wanted in a New York City murder — would remain in custody in Arizona, she said.

“Having observed the treatment of violent criminals in the New York area by the Manhattan DA, I think it's safer to keep him here and keep him in custody so he cannot be out doing this to individuals in our state or county or anywhere else," she said at a news briefing on Wednesday.

In response to Mitchell's comments, Manhattan District Attorney spokesperson Emily Tuttle emailed The Arizona Republic. The statement read: "It is deeply disturbing that D.A. Mitchell is playing political games in a murder investigation. In Manhattan, we are serious about New Yorkers’ safety, which is why murders are down 24% and shootings are down 38% since D.A. (Alvin) Bragg took office.

"New York’s murder rate is less than half that of Phoenix, Arizona, because of the hard work of the NYPD and all of our law enforcement partners. It is a slap in the face to them and to the victim in our case to refuse to allow us to seek justice and full accountability for a New Yorker’s death."

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says Raad Almansoori will not be extradited to New York.
Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says Raad Almansoori will not be extradited to New York.

The Manhattan DA's Office also emailed a chart comparing 2022 homicides per 100,000 residents between Phoenix and New York City and Manhattan. The bar graph, also shared Wednesday on X, formerly known as Twitter, Phoenix's rate at 11.6, while New York City's and Manhattan's stood at 5.4 and 5, respectively.

Mitchell took to X to respond to the statement by the Manhattan DA's Office."It’s great to see the @ManhattanDA finally take interest in violent crime. My job is to focus on the victims I was elected to protect," read Mitchell's post.

Raad Almansoori, 26, suspected of two stabbings in the Phoenix area, was being held without bond on suspicion of attempted murder and aggravated assault, Mitchell said.

Metro Phoenix police officials said Almansoori made statements that he intended to continue his crime spree in the Valley when he was found and taken into custody Sunday.

Almansoori told officers after his arrest he had murdered a woman in New York City 10 days before. He would not be extradited to New York, Mitchell said.

Raad Almansoori is wanted in a beating death in New York

Almansoori is wanted in the beating death of Denisse Oleas-Arancibia, 38, at a Manhattan hotel, according to the New York Times. New York City police told the Times they believe Almansoori killed Oleas-Aranciba, who was working as an escort, with an iron to the head. Her death occurred between the afternoon of Feb. 7 and 10:30 a.m. Feb. 8. at the SoHo 54 Hotel.

"Google 'SoHo 54 Hotel,'" Almansoori told investigators, according to Joseph Kenny, New York Police Department chief of detectives. Kenny spoke at a Tuesday news conference, according to the Times.

A prosecutor from the Manhattan DA's Office traveled to Maricopa County to arrange Almansoori's extradition to New York, according to The Times.

Kenny said Almansoori told Surprise police he "hurt three additional girls in Florida," according to the Times.

Woman stabbed 3 times in bathroom at Surprise McDonald's

At a news briefing in Surprise Wednesday, officials provided further details of the stabbing at a McDonald's near Greenway and Reems roads and the arrest of Almansoori in Scottsdale hours later.

Video surveillance showed a man following the McDonald's employee into the restaurant bathroom, where he banged on the woman's locked stall before crawling under the door.

The man brandished a gun, later identified as a BB gun, and stabbed the woman at least three times in the neck after she screamed, police said. The man then fled south and stole a car near Sarival Avenue and Acoma Drive, according to Surprise police.

Complete strangers and co-workers at the McDonald’s chased the man as he fled, and others provided medical aid, which likely was why the woman was still alive, Surprise police spokesperson Sgt. Rick Hernandez said.

Surprise police pursued the attacker.

Almansoori was taken into custody after Scottsdale Police Department's automated license plate readers picked up the vehicle he was driving at several locations. Officers found him in a parking garage at Scottsdale Fashion Square, where he was reversed into a parking space, according to Scottsdale police Chief Jeff Walther.

“This gentleman was going to continue this string of violence, and he was going to do so there at Scottsdale Fashion Square,” Walther said.

Surprise police Chief Benny Piña said at the news briefing, “He intended to find and harm more individuals in our community. This arrest without a doubt stopped someone, with as heinous as everything he has done so far, from continuing to that path of destruction and eroding community safety.”

Piña said Surprise police worked with the Department of Public Safety to use its labs to ensure Almansoori was entered into CODIS, a national DNA information repository maintained by the FBI.

“He may be involved with other more heinous crimes, and since he had spent many years as a resident of Arizona, we wanted to guarantee that we didn’t have any open cases that we could link to him and immediately begin to investigate," Piña said. "That process is underway.”

All of the violent incidents tied to Almansoori appear to be random and targeted toward young women, Hernandez said, adding that investigators would be working to see if Almansoori is tied to other metro Phoenix cases.

Almansoori also was suspected of a Saturday stabbing at a business near 19th and Glendale avenues in Phoenix, according to Phoenix police.

Assistant police Chief Ed DeCastro said officers responded to an armed robbery call at a business and found that a woman had gone to medical urgent care for treatment after a man attempted to take the woman's car at gun- and knifepoint.

The woman was stabbed and left outside the business with her vehicle after the man fled, DeCastro said.

Anyone with more information is asked to call the Surprise Police Department at (623) 222-TIPS (8477).

Arizona Republic reporter Perry Vandell contributed to this article.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Rachel Mitchell keeps NY murder suspect Raad Almansoori in AZ custody