Amherst murder suspect arrested in Arizona, along with alleged accomplice


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (WWLP) – A man accused of shooting and killing a man outside an Amherst apartment complex has been arrested more than 2,100 miles away in Arizona.

Mary Carey, spokesperson for the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, told 22News that 33–year-old Soknang Chham of New Salem, was taken into custody on a murder charge by U.S. Marshals in Flagstaff, Arizona Tuesday. A second man, 35-year-old Sokot Chham of New Salem, was also arrested on a charge of accessory after the fact to murder.

Carey said the arrests were made after police received information that the two had left Massachusetts on a bus bound for Phoenix.

Soknang Chham is accused of shooting 31-year-old Jose “Joselito” Rodriguez multiple times on October 15th. Rodriguez died from his wounds, while another man who was shot had survived and was eventually released from the hospital.

In the days that followed Jose’s death, friends and family established a makeshift memorial. Jose and his alleged killers grew up together; friends told 22News they want justice.

Stacey Dalmeu of Amherst said, “I was in the car with my son when I found out, and I literally gasped a big gasp of air and screamed with joy because I’ve been asking God over and over please let these men who did this to our brother be caught and get justice for them.”

Rhomni St. John of Amherst said, “It gives you confidence that people can go away that far and they can still be caught and brought to justice.”

A sense of relief for a community not used to violence. Shawn Choi of Amherst said, “This is Amherst. You never expect shootings to happen here. This is a college town. You are supposed to be safe. To hear that there was a shooting, especially in the area where I live, it’s kind of scary.”

In addition to the murder charge, Soknang faces an armed assault with intent to murder charge. Both Soknang and Sokot, who Carey said are believed to be brothers, will be arraigned in an Arizona courtroom, and will eventually be returned to Massachusetts to face charges here.

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