PHOENIX – An armed robber who threatened employees and a Tempe Police officer at the Arizona Mills Mall in 2011 faces a lengthy prison sentence after a jury found him guilty of multiple felony offenses. Roger Nelson (D.O.B. 4/18/1992) is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21, 2014 before the Honorable John Ditsworth. His convictions for aggravated assault on a peace officer and attempted second degree murder each carry a possible sentence of 7 to 21 years.
“This defendant posed an extreme danger to the community by threatening a law enforcement officer and placing the lives of innocent others at risk,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Officer Kells is to be commended for his use of a Taser to take the defendant into custody,” he added.
At approximately 2:30 p.m. on August 29, 2011, Roger Nelson lost control of the vehicle he was driving and crashed into a tree at the north end of the Arizona Mills Mall in Tempe. He fled the scene of the accident and ran into the mall armed with a .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun. Once inside the mall, Nelson entered a shoe store and took two pairs of shoes to the sales counter where he pointed the gun at an employee and demanded she put the shoes in a bag. He then exited the mall.
Tempe Police responded to the scene after receiving reports of an armed man inside the mall. Officer Michael Kells was standing to the rear of his marked patrol car when he saw a male subject, later determined to be Roger Nelson, walking toward him on the sidewalk. Officer Kells ordered Nelson to put his hands on top of his head, at which point Nelson drew his handgun and pointed it at the officer’s chest. In an ensuing struggle, Kells was able to wrest the gun away and fire his Taser at Nelson, incapacitating him. Nelson was taken into custody and later admitted to the series of events leading to his arrest, explaining that he had been on an “adrenaline high.”
On September 7, 2011, the Grand Jurors of Maricopa County delivered an indictment charging Nelson with three counts of aggravated assault and one count each of attempted first degree murder, armed robbery, leaving the scene of an accident, and disorderly conduct. The jury deliberated for slightly more than a day before reaching guilty verdicts on all but the one count of attempted first degree murder. On that count, the jury found him guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted second degree murder.