Jon Paxton of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office talks about the hunt for someone who shot at a U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighter.
An arson suspect was fatally shot by law-enforcement officials 20 miles northeast of Globe on Saturday, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Officials had been searching for the man for a couple of weeks in connection with several arson fires and for firing at a U.S. Forest Service employee.
According to the FBI, officers with the U.S. Forest Service and San Carlos Apache Police Department came across the man in the area of Timber Camp, northeast of Globe, at about 2 a.m. Saturday.
The FBI reported officers and the man exchanged gunfire, and officers killed the man. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
No officers were injured in the incident, according to the FBI.
Officials have identified the man but are withholding his identity pending next-of-kin notification.
Fourth of July shooting
Officials had been looking for the man since early July.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and the Forest Lakes Fire District reported the man fired shots at a U.S. Forest Service employee on July 4. As the employee retreated, the man pulled out a shotgun and shot more rounds at him, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The employee was not injured and was able to escape and call law enforcement.
The gunfire took place about a quarter-mile south of Canyon Point Campground on the Mogollon Rim, about 35 miles east of Payson and about 20 miles west of Heber.
The day before, residents reported seeing the man near several small brush fires that had ignited in the Forest Lakes area, about 35 miles east of Payson. Officials believed the fires had been set intentionally.
Fire crews were able to extinguish the fires almost as quickly as they sparked.
Officials released some blurry photos of the man but had not released his identity.
At one point, the man was reported to have been on the Fort Apache Reservation wearing the same clothes he was wearing when he encountered the Forest Service employee. County officials at that time believed he was heading toward Mexico.
The FBI has jurisdiction on any assault on federal officers.
The multi-agency investigation is ongoing and includes the Gila and Coconino county sheriff’s offices, the San Carlos Apache Tribal Police Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The FBI said because of the nature of the ongoing investigation, no further information would be immediately released.
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