By Jon Johnson
WILLCOX – An Arizona Department of Public Safety trooper is being treated at a Tucson hospital after being shot by a suspect during a traffic stop on Interstate 10 near Willcox on Thursday. The suspect was fatally shot.
According to a release from the DPS, the trooper was struck in the shoulder and sustained non-life-threatening injuries. He was transported to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, where he underwent surgery for his injury.
The suspect’s silver Chevrolet SUV was reportedly traveling at 111 mph on the interstate about 35 miles from Willcox when the trooper attempted a traffic stop. The suspect, identified currently only as a 21-year-old man from Georgia, sped away from the trooper after initially pulling over and again reached speeds more than 100 mph as he headed east toward Willcox.
Stop sticks were deployed by the Willcox Police Department near milepost 344. While the tires were punctured, the suspect continued to flee and the trooper conducted a Pursuit Intervention Technique, known as a PIT maneuver, which caused the vehicle to rotate.
At that time, the suspect allegedly fired three shots at the trooper, with one going through the patrol vehicle’s windshield and striking the trooper.
According to a release from the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect then fled on foot on Airport Road into a residential neighborhood. The suspect then refused law enforcement’s commands to surrender and attempted to enter a residence. According to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect – who was still armed with a handgun – was then shot by authorities. The suspect was transferred to a local hospital, where he was declared deceased.
Freeway traffic was diverted off the interstate for a couple of hours and the westbound lanes were shut down for the investigation. The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is the lead investigation agency, while the DPS will conduct an internal investigation as well.
“I am glad the officer (who was) shot will hopefully recover, and the other law enforcement officers/deputies involved in this incident are safe after this critical situation,” said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. The dangers law enforcement officers face are real as illustrated today. Based upon the evidence gathered thus far, the suspect made some fatal decisions ultimately resulting in this use of deadly force by the officers on (the) scene. The training by these officers to protect themselves and their communities was a key component to their survival and the protection of our citizens.”