Tough talking Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s deputy came under fire on Friday, literally, when his station was “ambushed” with a burst of gunfire at a bulletproof glass door.
The shooting outside a sheriff’s office substation in the aptly-named town of Surprise, Arizona, was proof there is a war on cops, said Donald Trump’s favorite “Sheriff Joe.” He told KPHO-TV in Phoenix, “They better start thinking about that all the way from Washington on down.”
The sheriff reported that a gunman positioned his car outside the substation and “fired several times” directly at a deputy, who fled behind a bullet-resistant door and escaped injury. He was apprehended by a second deputy who managed to get the suspect to drop his weapon.
On inspecting the vehicle, police also found a second weapon, a semiautomatic, that was not used in the shooting. The suspect was identified as Jonathan David Perez, 39. No motive was given.
While the motive for the shooting remains unclear, Arpaio is insistent that it is a part of a series of “ambushes” against his deputies, building his case for a “war on cops.” The second incident Arpaio is referring to occurred on May 7 when a passing car opened fire on a Maricopa County deputy. The deputy suffered minor injuries. The suspect fled and the motive remains unclear.
Arpaio is convinced the two incidences are linked and declared war on the alleged conspiracy. He told AZ Central as much.
“I have said there’s a war on cops,” Arpaio said. “This is twice against our deputies. Twice. So I take that very serious, and I’m going to do everything I can to stop this. They want a war? They’re going to have a war.”
Arpaio has been a hotly controversial figure all over the country, with his attention-grabbing “toughest sheriff in America” antics winning him tremendous amounts of both accolades, and accusations of human rights violations. “Sheriff Joe” made headlines last week when a federal judge ruled him in civil contempt in connection with a racial profiling case, one of many times Arpaio has drawn national attention for his treatment of illegal immigrants. In 2011 a Department of Justice investigation concluded that Arpaio “oversaw the worst pattern of racial profiling by a law enforcement agency in U.S. history.”
The sheriff has also drawn national criticism for his treatment of prisoners in his county, dressing them in pink underwear, keeping them outside in 145-degree heat in a tent confinement he calls a “concentration camp,” and depriving them of adequate medical and mental health care in what a federal judge ruled a violation of prisoners’ constitutional rights. As of September, 2015, cases involving Arpaio or his office have cost Maricopa County taxpayers $142 million in legal expenses, settlements, and court awards.
In 1999, Arpaio’s deputies arrested an 18-year-old man on accusations of an assassination plot against Arpaio that he was later found to have been entrapped into. After spending four years in jail awaiting trial, a Maricopa County Superior Court jury acquitted the man when it was revealed that Arpaio’s detectives had bought the bomb parts themselves and convinced the young man to build it himself, then arrested him on charges of planning to use the bomb to assassinate Sheriff Arpaio. The jury ultimately found that the bomb plot was an elaborate publicity stunt to boost Arpaio’s re-election bid.
“If they think they are going to scare me away with bombs and everything else, it’s not going to bother me,” Arpaio told reporters after the man was arrested.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]