Arizona Police Officer Tyler J. Stewart died on Saturday, after being shot by a domestic-violence suspect, who then turned the gun on himself and was pronounced dead at the scene. At 24-years old, Stewart had been on the police force for less than a year, according to the Huffington Post.
Sergeant Margaret Bentzen reported to AZ Central that Officer Stewart was responding to a domestic-violence call around 1:30 p.m. at a home in the 800 block of West Clay Avenue in search of a suspect named Robert W. Smith. Suddenly, Smith, 28, opened fire on Officer Stewart as he stood outside his patrol car.
Smith then shot himself dead, according to a police statement to AZ Central.
Officer Stewart’s emergency button deployed that sent an alert, and additional officers were immediately dispatched. At that time, dispatchers could no longer get any kind of verbal response from Stewart.
As soon as help arrived, Stewart was rushed to Flagstaff Medical Center. But by that time it was too late as Stewart was in critical condition and was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at the hospital.
Sgt. Bentzen told the Huffington Post that it does not appear Officer Stewart fired any shots. The incident is still currently under investigation.
USA Today reports that “police are looking for another person involved in the domestic violence situation, but would not comment on that individual’s involvement in the incident.”
Mayor Jerry Nabours shared that this tragic ordeal is “heartbreaking” to many — Officer Stewart’s family and friends, the police force, as well as the entire Flagstaff community.
Jimmy Chavez, President of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association, admits that domestic-violence calls are considered the most dangerous for police officers who are called to the scene. Although Chavez was not aware of the specific details in this case with Officer Stewart, he revealed that officers are strongly advised to wait for backup for these kinds of calls, according to AZ Central.
“Those are never safe scenarios to go into in any event.”
Officer Stewart graduated from Boulder Creek High School in 2008, and proceeded to attend and graduate from Concordia College in California.
Dylan Frusco, a high-school friend and fellow high school basketball player, recalls Stewart with fond memories, saying he was a very happy person.
“Tyler was always positive; he was probably one of the nicest kids I’ve ever met.”
Officer Stewart is the second Flagstaff police officer to be killed in the line of duty. The first was Officer Jeff Moritz, who was shot and killed on June 21, 2000, when he pulled over a teenager who was “driving around his neighborhood in a truck playing loud rap music,” according to the Huffington Post.
Mayor Nabours reveals that the job of a police officer faces dangers each and every day, especially domestic violence disturbances.
“It is a dangerous job from day one. In Flagstaff, we very much know and like our police officers. They may very well be your child’s little league coach, somebody you went to high school with, so we think of our police as part of the community and our friends.”
Flagstaff Police Chief Kevin Treadway made a statement, according to AZ Central, regarding the loss felt by the police department.
“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.”
Levi Bolton, executive director of the Arizona Police Association, summed it up with one statement. Officer Tyler Stewart will clearly be missed by so many and by those who appreciate his service, along with all police officers who put their lives on the line every day for the safety of their communities.
“He carried a badge and made the ultimate sacrifice.”
[Photo Credit: Facebook]