Phoenix Police Officer Dies After Shootout

Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 4:34pm
Updated: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 10:14pm

A Phoenix police officer died and another was in critical condition after a shootout Monday that also killed a man wanted on a felony warrant, authorities said.

The member of the Phoenix Police Department's fugitive apprehension team died of his wounds at a hospital a few hours after the 3:30 p.m. shooting, Police Chief Daniel Garcia said.

The officer's name wasn't immediately released. Garcia said he was a 21-year veteran.

"The other officer is fighting for his life," Garcia said at a news conference. That officer, a nine-year veteran of the force, also hadn't been publicly identified by late Monday evening.

“Today’s event is a tragic reminder of the incredible dangers our police officers face each and every day," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in a release.

The shootout occurred after the suspect fled in a car, caused a three-vehicle collision at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road, then ran away before exchanging gunfire with officers outside a check cashing and title loan business, authorities said.

"It was obvious that the guy was out of control," said Wayne Monton, who owns a nearby business and witnessed the shooting. "After the crash and the shooting, everybody just took off running. It was chaos."

The suspect came around a corner with a gun and a third officer fatally shot him, Detective James Holmes said.

The suspect's name was not immediately released.

Both officers were rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital this afternoon, police said, while the suspect died at the scene.

An 83-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man suffered minor injuries in the car crash that closed an intersection for several hours as authorities gathered evidence.

Nick Cusson, the manager of a restaurant in a shopping center near the intersection, said he heard more than a dozen gunshots just a few minutes after arriving at work.

"The next thing you know, the whole parking lot is scattered with people," Cusson said. "Then within about 30 seconds, we see all these cops driving up."

Cusson said he had noticed several unmarked police cars parked nearby just before the shooting but didn't think much of it.

"Then I guess there was a shootout," he said. "We were all looking out the window. We were kind of curious. We weren't sure they were gunshots at first."

Cusson said he was closing his shop because the entire area had been cordoned off by police.

The Glendale Police Department said 43rd Avenue was shut down between Camelback and Maryland. Bethany Home was closed between 47th Avenue and 39th Avenue. Officials say the closures will last for hours, possibly into the morning.

The last Phoenix police officer killed in the line of duty was Daryl Raetz on May 19, 2013. He was struck by a car during a traffic stop.

The last Phoenix officer to be shot in the line of duty was Travis Murphy on May 26, 2010. He was shot while trying to make an arrest.

The city maintains a web page with all information on the previous 36 officers killed in line of duty.

KJZZ's Peter O'Dowd and Al Macias contributed to this report.
Updated 3/3/2014 at 10:12 p.m.

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