Suspect in Christmas Eve Arizona Casino Shooting Arrested in Phoenix

A man alleged to have shot and killed a retired California police officer in the parking lot of an Arizona casino has been captured. John Campus Sr. was arrested by Phoenix police after a week-long manhunt. Several witnesses claim they saw Campos shoot a man during a failed carjacking outside the Wild Horse Pass Casino on Christmas Eve.

Video surveillance showed John Campos Sr., a 47-year old released convict, in the parking lot of the Wild Horse Pass Casino. Minutes later, two passengers in the car he is accused of carjacking saw him gun down retired police officer Frank Pascua, a retired Bakersfield police officer. At first, Campos’s son, 25-year old John Campos Jr., was a suspect in the shooting, due to his physical similarities to his father. Both stood 5’5″ and had a variety of tattoos on their bodies.

Wild Horse Pass Casino Shooting

The incident happened as the 52-year old Frank Pascua, his fiance, and his brother were getting out of their car in the parking lot of the Wild Horse Pass Casino. Campos is alleged to have brandished a gun and tried to carjack the three people. Clarance Pascua, the victim’s brother, said he was convinced Campos was going to harm the three, besides robbing them. Clarence said his brother felt the same way. His police instincts took over, Frank Pascua grabbed Campos’s gun, the two men struggled, and Campos fatally shot Pascua. The victim was rushed to a nearby hospital, but died while receiving treatment.

Clarence Pascua said his brother, who was a U.S. Marine before serving for the Bakersfield Police Department, acted in bravery. He said of his deceased brother, “I want to say he died a hero and I think he possibly saved Brenda (his fiance) and my life too.”

John Campos Sr’s Criminal Record

If the criminal record of John Campos Sr. is any indication, the Pascua Family is likely right. Campos has a long record of violent crime, including the kidnapping of those he holds at gunpoint. He was sent to prison in 2005 for armed robbery and kidnapping, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections. He gained his release from prison in 2014, but appears to have returned to armed robbery and kidnapping in the year since his release. Police said Campos left the scene of the crime in a Green Kia, after apparently carjacking a third witness to the crime. No word was given about this potential victim, so the information either proved erroneous or the victim was released unharmed.

In the days after the murder, Gila River Police Department Detective Robert Hawkes asked the public for information leading to Campos’s arrest. Hawkes said the suspect was considered armed and dangerous. Eventually, the FBI offered a $5,000 reward for information which would leads to the arrest of Campos, who had been in prison for most of a decade prior to the incident at Wild Horse Pass Casino.

Booked In Phoenix

After he was arrested, the Phoenix Police booked Campos at the 4th Avenue Jail on Saturday. It is expected he will be moved to custody in Gila River, where he will stand trial for murder. With a murder charge against him, several witnesses who can place him at the scene, and a prison record with similar violent crimes in his past, it is unlikely John Campos Sr. ever will be free from prison again.

Casino Gambling in Arizona

Casino gambling continues to be a controversial subject in Arizona, a traditionally conservative state which has changing demographics in the 21st century. Arizona was the home state of the late conservative icon, Barry Goldwater, who ran for president as the Republican candidate on a libertarian platform in 1964.

The state has supported Sen. John McCain throughout his long career in the GOP. Arizona has also been a battleground in the social field. In the 1980s, the state refused to honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a holiday, leading to the NFL canceling plans for a Super Bowl there. The Maricopa County Sheriff continues to be a hot-button issue, because of his tent city jail.  The state recently had a Phoenix-area casino open, despite years of lawsuits and attempts to outlaw it in the US Congress.

Thus, any trouble which happens at an Arizona casino might be seized upon by opponents of gambling. The Gila River police said this is the first such violent incident at any of the three area casinos. This appears to have been an isolated incident and the result of one man’s violent criminal behavior.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

Leave a Reply

Related Articles