Man sentenced to life in prison after Chandler triple shooting conviction

A man suspected of fatally shooting two people and nearly killing a third inside a car in 2017 was sentenced to life in prison on Monday after he was convicted of first-degree murder along with other felony charges last month.

Chandler police arrested Taron Watkins in August 2017 after authorities said he shot three people he was with while on their way to watch a boxing match at his mother's home. Police said the four pulled over in a parking lot to smoke marijuana.

The only surviving gunshot victim told police that Watkins then pulled out a gun and opened fire on everybody in the vehicle.

Police were first notified of the shootings by a witness claiming to have heard gunshots and a sedan fleeing the scene. Officers went to a parking lot southwest of Elliot Road and Arizona Avenue, where they found a man lying on the ground. He was transported to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Later that evening, Mesa officers discovered two gunshot-wound victims in a red Toyota sedan near Alma School and Baseline roads. A 16-year-old girl was pronounced dead at the scene, while a man with life-threatening injuries was taken to a hospital.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office said a jury found Watkins guilty on two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder and one count of aggravated assault.

The agency said family members of both of the deceased shared how the shooting devastated their lives while family of the surviving victim said that, while their son survived, he had suffered extensive physical trauma and the path to recovery was a long one.

Reach breaking news and public safety reporter Perry Vandell at 602-444-2474 or perry.vandell@gannett.com. Follow him on X, formerly known as Twitter @PerryVandell.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Man sentenced to life in prison in Chandler triple shooting