Navajo Nation Police were in a standoff with a man who held his family hostage on Thursday afternoon. An unidentified 24-year-old man shot and killed one Navajo officer and wounded another before being shot to death himself by police. The hostilities began in the Little Water Trading Post area.
The domestic violence call the Navajo Nation Police responded to occurred around 4 p.m. local time. An emergency call into the law enforcement department alerted officers that a man armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle was holding his family hostage inside their home.
The Navajo Nation straddles northeast Arizona, northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah, compassing some 27,000 square miles, a space which is larger than West Virginia, according to a CNN report. The Navajo Nation reportedly boasts one of the largest tribal governments of the North American Indian tribes. The entity also has its own judicial system, social services, and is home to Diné College.
The armed man reportedly fired upon the Navajo Nation Police officers immediately after they arrived at the residence. The gun fight was lasted until nearly 11 p.m. – without any words exchanged between the police officers and the armed hostage-taker, according to statements from Navajo Nation government officials. Navajo Nation representative Rick Abasta said shooting suspect was possibly wearing a bulletproof vest. Abasta also noted that the FBI would likely take over the investigation.
The manhunt for the murder suspect reportedly involved law enforcement officers from both the Navajo Nation’s Window Rock and Crownpoint districts. The armed suspect was killed in the northern Arizona city of Red Valley, across the border from New Mexico. Abasta also added that the Navajo Nation Police officer who was killed during the standoff died at the scene in Red Valley. The police officer who was injured was transported to Shiprock Medical Center emergency medical aid. The officer’s condition is currently unknown.
“We send our condolences to the family of the Navajo Police officer who gave his life in the line of duty. The family will be in our prayers,” Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said.
Navajo Nation Police told the Associated Press that the suspect was a man named Justin Fowler. The police murder and shooting of another law enforcement officer remains under investigation, according to Navajo Nation Director Division of Public Safety, John Billison.