By Yihyun Jeong and Cecilia Chan
The Arizona Republic-12 News Breaking News Team
Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:18 PM
The slayings of two bounty hunters who were attempting to apprehend a fugitive this week in Phoenix highlight the danger of the job, an industry official says.
Bail bondsmen David Brickert, 37, and Wesley Kampen, 39, were found fatally shot Monday night at an apartment complex in the 1600 block of West Yucca Street, Phoenix police said.
John Burns, president of the Arizona Bail Bondsmen Association, said the group’s 280 members are in a dangerous line of work.
Even with more than three decades in the military and law enforcement, Burns said, “every day I go out there, I am still paranoid that anything can happen.”
Burns said that the two deaths were the state’s first in the profession that he could recall but added that bail-bond agents are injured on the job all the time.
Burns said that, two years ago, a man on methamphetamine who had skipped bail slammed Burns to the ground, shattering his elbow.
Nationwide, five bail bondsmen on average are killed on the job each year, he said.
Phoenix police were still searching Tuesday for the shooter. They say Brickert and Kampen were gunned down while attempting to arrest Anthony Brian Giunta, 25, who had skipped out on $300 bail.
Giunta failed to show up for a hearing Monday on weapon and drug charges, according to court records.
The bondsmen had Giunta in handcuffs when a gunman killed them and fled, police said.
Police said they later arrested Giunta, who had removed his handcuffs with a file, on Monday night at an apartment near 17th Avenue and Cholla Street.
Giunta was not cooperating and had not given any information on the shooter, police said.
Giunta has an extensive criminal history, including convictions for burglary, weapons misconduct and aggravated assault, court records say.
Sanctuary Bail Bonds said company officials are saddened by the loss. “David leaves behind a beautiful family, his fiancee and two young children,” a company statement read. “Wesley also leaves behind his son.”
The company has set up a fund to help support the families and pay for funeral costs. Donations can be made at
Brickert helped train the company’s agents and was versed in self-defense, according to the company’s website.
Kampen maintained communication with clients and the people signing the bond and helped recover fugitives, according to the company.
“This is a really sad day,” Burns said. “I know both those guys. My thoughts go out to the family.”
A bail bondsman’s job begins the minute a person is bailed out of jail, Burns said.
The agent keeps in constant contact with the defendant to make sure the person shows up in court, Burns said.
“We are like a private probation officer,” he said. “We are very strict. We have money at risk.”
Burns’ company has offices in Phoenix and Tucson and handles 600 to 700 defendants a month. At any given time, there are eight to 10 clients on the run, he said.
In the four years since he bought Better Bail Bonds, the company has bailed out 10,000 people and failed to capture seven, Burns said.
The agents in his company are outfitted just like policemen, with bulletproof vests and weapons.
They are not hindered by rules that typically govern law enforcement, such as needing to go before a judge for a warrant or subpoena.
Burns said Arizona is one of the few states that don’t require bail bondsmen to be trained or educated.
He has been working to push a bill that would require both, he said.
“You can be 18 and a dropout of high school and have no training and start arresting people,” Burns said. “Anytime someone who is untrained goes there, it’s putting the public in harm’s way.”
Phoenix police are asking anyone with information on the deaths to call 602-262-6151 or Silent Witness at 480-949-6377.