A police shootout in the high southwest desert town of Flagstaff, Arizona, has resulted in both the deaths of a Flagstaff police officer and the suspect that shot him.
Flagstaff Officer Tyler J. Stewart, 24, was responding to a domestic violence situation on Saturday afternoon when the shootout occurred and he was shot by the suspect. Officer Stewart was taken to Flagstaff Medical Center in critical condition where medical personnel were unable to save the downed officer, according to AP.
In response to the domestic violence call, Officer Stewart was reportedly looking for a man named Robert Smith, 28, of Prescott. Officer Stewart arrived at the domestic violence residence call in the 800 block of West Clay Avenue around 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon and suspect Smith reportedly opened fire, mortally wounding Officer Stewart.
Suspect Smith then turned his gun on himself, successfully, and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to police.
Sgt. Margaret Bentzen said that investigators believe Officer Stewart was unable to fire any shots to defend himself but investigations into what happened during the domestic violence shooting are ongoing.
The small and tight knit Northern Arizona community of Flagstaff was rocked by the uncommon shootout and death of one of its officers, which Chief Kevin Treadway made clear in a statement.
“This is an enormous tragedy for our department and the family of our Officer. We are a very close knit organization, and know that all members of the Flagstaff Police Department are grieving at this time. With that being said, all of the men and women of the Flagstaff Police Department extend our prayers and condolences to the family of our Officer Tyler Stewart.”
Officer Stewart joined the Flagstaff Police Department less than a year ago, and the young officer is only the second Flagstaff police officer to ever be killed in the line of duty. The other, Officer Jeff Moritz, 30, was killed by a teenager he pulled over on June 21, 2000, who was driving a truck and “playing loud rap music.”
Officer Stewart graduated from Boulder Creek High School in Anthem, Arizona, and went on to get a degree from Concordia College in California, according to Flagstaff police.
“It is heartbreaking to lose one of our officers,” said Mayor Jerry Nabours. “We collectively mourn for his family and the entire department.”
While Officer Stewart was only the second police shooting fatality in the Flagstaff Police Department’s history, his shooting was also the second police officer shooting in northern Arizona over the past three months. A Navajo Nation tribal officer was shot in the face in October in the town of Kaibeto, during another shootout with another male suspect.
Kaibeto is about 75 miles north of Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation tribal officer survived the shooting.
CNN reports that, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website, 125 other police officers have also died while on duty in 2014, along with Officer Stewart.
[Image courtesy of Flagstaff Police Department]