Tempe Teacher murder suspect arrested with brother’s help

The victim was a well-liked math teacher

After nearly a weeklong manhunt, the suspect accused of killing a popular Tempe, Arizona, teacher has been arrested.

Caleb Bartels, 27, was charged with the murder of Mesa High School math teacher┬áRyne Zahner, 26. Bartels allegedly shot and killed Zahner in the teacher’s own backyard last Sunday morning, while other people were at the home.

Bartels had reportedly been pulled over for questioning and released three times before his arrest, as police did not immediately identify a suspect.

Bartels’ brother Tyler helped lead police to the suspect. Tyler Bartels, a friend of Zahner’s who he met through his brother, was a key witness in the shooting — though he could not immediately identify the shooter. According to the Arizona Republic, Tyler told police he was with Zahner when a then-unknown man told them to put their hands up. He said he thought they were initially being pranked, but then the man started shooting from his rifle. Tyler told police he grabbed the rifle by the barrel and wrestled the man to the ground, before he believes he blacked out.

A day after the shooting did Tyler reportedly tell police that the shooter called him by name, and that it sounded like his brother’s voice. He said his memory was sparked after learning that his brother had been missing since the shooting. Bartels and Zahner were previously roommates.

Bartels appears to have been intending to flee, and was apprehended in California by a California Highway Patrol Officer after the officer noticed that his car matched the description of the vehicle Tempe police were seeking. Bartels had been pulled over earlier in the week in Utah and Nevada.

Police told the Arizona Republic that Caleb Bartels moved out of the home he shared with Zahner and moved in with his father after he began struggling with mental health issues. His brother Tyler then moved in with Zahner, and witnesses told police that Bartels developed a strong animosity towards Zahner. No specific motive has been named in the alleged murder.



Photo: Tempe Police Department