Bearizona Wildlife Park in northern Arizona was fully evacuated about three hours after being placed on lockdown while deputies searched for a man who shot at law enforcement as they were chasing him Monday, officials said.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office identified the suspect as John Freeman, who is described as 6 feet tall, 170 pounds with hazel eyes and brown hair. He has a tattoo on his left arm and may be wearing a denim shirt and pants.
Freeman has a warrant for his arrest out of Kingman and should be considered armed and dangerous. Two other men who were in the car with Freeman are now in custody.
Authorities say a Yavapai County sheriff’s deputy tried to stop a maroon sedan for a traffic violation on eastbound Interstate 40 near Ash Fork about 10:45 a.m. The sedan kept going, and a man who was thrown from the car has been detained, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The deputy continued to follow the sedan, which was driving in excess of 100 mph, until it became disabled and crashed into a culvert near Bearizona.
Authorities say Freeman exited the car and fired at least one shot at the deputy before disappearing into the forest. Officials say he may be injured. A third man found near the car after it crashed has also been detained, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“Several law enforcement agencies and SWAT teams are coordinating search efforts in a large radius around I-40 and milepost 165,” according to a Facebook post by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. “If anyone sees the suspect, call 911 immediately. DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS IN THIS AREA.”
Jocelyn Monteverde, a Bearizona spokeswoman, said the park was placed on lockdown at 11:30 a.m. Monday.
There were approximately 200 people on the park grounds when the lockdown began, and sheriff’s deputies evacuated them “a few at a time with a police escort,” Monteverde said. Police cleared all staff and visitors from the park just before 3 p.m. Monday.
No injuries have been reported, and park officials are encouraging others to stay away from the area.
Check back with azcentral.com for more details.
Read or Share this story: http://azc.cc/2noq1ue