Secretary Of State After Latest Homeless Death In The Zone: ‘Not Great,’ ‘Go Buy A Sandwich’

March 23, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Secretary of State Adrian Fontes weighed in after the latest tragedy to hit The Zone, a dead man burned in a dumpster, by calling the area “not great” and recommending his favorite lunch order from a local sandwich shop. 

“I had lunch at the Old Station today with a couple people from the office. Things are not great nearby, but the restaurant itself was pretty good,” said Fontes. “#6 Double meat. Diet Coke. Chips. Give them some love. Go buy a sandwich!”

The homeless encampment, nicknamed “The Zone,” covers an area spanning several miles in downtown Phoenix that has made headlines nationwide over the past year.

The sandwich shop, Old Station, resides in the heart of The Zone. Fontes retweeted an interview snippet from “The Gaydos and Chad Show” featuring the shop owner, Joe Faillace, discussing the dire state of the community due to the ongoing homeless crisis. Hours before Fontes sent that tweet, and likely around the same time Fontes was eating his sandwich, first responders were handling the latest dead body to be discovered in The Zone — a man thrown into a dumpster and burned. 

The business owner whose property abutted the dumpster, Angie Ojile, told AZ Free News that she doesn’t know why the city or county isn’t taking a different approach with The Zone, considering the daily patterns of crime and death.

“It’s hard to imagine: a man found in this dumpster, burned,” said Ojile. “It’s like — are we invisible? They say they care, but what I see is indifference.”

Where a memorial may have been laid for the life lost, the city brought another dumpster instead. Ojile said that the residents almost mistook it for the same dumpster where the man was found. 

“Instead of any kind of memorial — being that there was a burned body thrown in there — the city’s display of compassion is to replace it with another beat up, burnt-out dumpster with similar graffiti that most swear was the same. I can’t imagine that it was,” said Ojile.

As AZ Free News reported earlier this month, The Zone has become so overridden with crime that residents and business owners say that their calls to police go unanswered or unheeded. The Zone lies only around three blocks from the Phoenix Police Department headquarters: just over half a mile. 

In the last year, there were over 700 homeless deaths in The Zone. One of those deaths was that of a premature baby, approximately 20 to 24 weeks old, whose remains were discovered burned by a dumpster just weeks before Thanksgiving. Several locals told AZ Free News they believed that the dumpster from that tragedy was the same one in which this most recent death occurred. Whether they were the same dumpster is unclear.

“If they put a memorial up for every person that’s died in The Zone, it would look more like a graveyard than an industrial and residential district,” said Ojile.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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