Officer fatally shot in Arizona traffic stop, another wounded in subsequent chase

A police officer was fatally shot and another was flown to a hospital after a traffic stop led to a car chase and “gun battle” on the Fort Apache Reservation in eastern Arizona. The suspect was also killed, authorities said.

In a news release, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office said the incident began just after 7 p.m. local time (10 p.m. EST) Thursday when a White Mountain Apache police officer conducted a traffic stop in Whiteriver. 

“An altercation occurred between the officer and the person operating the vehicle,” the sheriff’s office said. “During the altercation, the officer was fatally shot.” 

The suspect then took the officer’s police vehicle and fled the scene, with White Mountain Apache police officers following in pursuit. 

The chase went through “very remote areas” of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, which is home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, to the Hawley Lake area, where police said a “gun battle” between officers and the suspect ensued.

A second officer was wounded during the shootout and the suspect was killed. The officer was flown to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment. 

The names of the officers and the suspect will not be released until next of kin is notified and authorization from the White Mountain Apache Tribe is received, the sheriff’s office said.

An investigation into the incident will be led by the FBI, it said. 

In a statement shared by the sheriff’s office, the White Mountain Apache Tribe said it was “indebted to our Police Department and EMS for their prompt and courageous response, and grateful for the assistance rendered by our neighboring jurisdictions.”

“Our prayers, tonight, are with the families of those officers involved, and with all of our first responders,” the tribe said.

In a separate statement, Navajo County Sheriff David Clouse said his office “would like to express our deepest sympathy for the loss of the White Mountain Apache Police Officer and the Officer that was injured serving their community today.”

Kurt Chirbas contributed.