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DIGGING DEEPER: Bail Outrage

TUCSON – A convicted felon is behind bars on multiple counts of armed robbery.

Jovany Lopez was indicted on 24 counts of armed robberies and burglary.

Investigators say he terrorized store clerks both in the city and the county.

A special joint operation between Tucson Police and Pima County Sheriff’s Department finally took him down.

However, there are lingering questions about whether Lopez’s bond has been set too low for the crimes he is accused of committing.

Court documents showed Lopez targeted four south side businesses and struck multiple times.

Lopez, 22, was recently in Superior Court in front of Judge Gus Aragon.

Lopez has been in the Pima County jail since July when he was booked on one count of armed robbery.

Lopez’s bond was then set at $1,000, even though the County Attorney’s office recommended a $15,000 bond.

After the Digging Deeper team began asking questions about the bond being so low the prosecutor also brought up the issue in court and asked the judge to increase it.

“I have grave concern for the safety of the community, the safety of the victims,” said Nicole Green the prosecutor, to the judge.

Green added the reason for the low bond was neither the prosecutor nor the judge had information he was allegedly a serial armed robber.

Ray Panzarella, the defense attorney, questioned the urgency since Lopez had been behind bars for three months and hadn’t posted bond.

Panzarella told the judge he wanted due process for his client.

The judge scheduled a hearing for Oct. 30.

Lopez’s alleged crime spree of violence began at the Circle K at Benson Hwy and Country Club Rd in April, located within the Pima County Sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Detective Daniel Barajas, with the Directed Patrol Unit out of the San Xavier district, said they knew Lopez was going to strike again sometime soon so they conducted surveillance in the area.

Across the street from the Circle K inside Tucson city limits is the Family Dollar Store.

That’s where officers said Lopez was accused of striking two days in a row back in late June.

Both times investigators say Lopez was armed with a gun.

“We put together an operation with TPD a lot of resources from our department to include the San Xavier Directed Patrol Unit, the robbery assault team, a bunch of other units that assisted us with this investigation,” Barajas told News 4 Tucson.

Investigators spent seven days waiting around the clock for Lopez to strike again.

Detectives said Lopez did, and was identified and arrested in the area he was terrorizing.

“Somebody could have gotten seriously hurt. It was very important to get this guy off the streets,” Barajas told News 4 Tucson.

The Digging Deeper team spoke to the one of the victims. They were so traumatized they asked not to be identified.

The victim talked about how Lopez threatened him, pointed the gun, and this was done in front of customers.

The victims felt they were victimized again when they saw jail records showing the bond was $1,000.

According to court documents, the Digging Deeper team uncovered that Lopez went to prison for attempted burglary in 2015.

Lopez’s probation Pre-Sentence report showed he endured a chaotic childhood.

According to the report, Lopez was first arrested at age 13, assaulted his mother, and has problems with alcohol and marijuana.

News 4 Tucson contacted Lopez at the Pima County Jail and asked for an on camera interview, he declined.

Lopez was back in court Oct. 30th.

Paul Birmingham

Paul Birmingham

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