FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A 24-year-old police officer died after being shot by a domestic violence suspect who then killed himself Saturday afternoon in Arizona.
Officer Tyler J. Stewart, 24, died at Flagstaff Medical Center, police said. Stewart is the second Flagstaff police officer ever to be killed in the line of duty. On June 21, 2000, Officer Jeff Moritz, 30, was killed after he pulled over a teenager as the teen drove around his neighborhood in a truck playing loud rap music.
Stewart was looking for the man — identified as Robert W. Smith, 28, of Prescott — about 1:30 p.m. in the 800 block of West Clay Avenue when Smith fired several shots at the officer, police said. Smith then shot himself and was pronounced dead at the scene, police added.
Investigators do not believe Stewart fired any shots, but they continue to investigate the matter, Sgt. Margaret Bentzen said.
Stewart was taken to Flagstaff Medical Center in critical condition and later died, police said.
“This is an enormous tragedy for our department and the family of our Officer. We are a very close knit organization, and know that all members of the Flagstaff Police Department are grieving at this time. With that being said, all of the men and women of the Flagstaff Police Department extend our prayers and condolences to the family of our Officer Tyler Stewart,” Chief Kevin Treadway said in a statement.
“It is heartbreaking to lose one of our officers,” Mayor Jerry Nabours said. “We collectively mourn for his family and the entire department.”
A candlelight vigil has been scheduled by Stewart’s family and the Flagstaff Police Department for 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Officer Down Memorial Statue at the front of the police department at 911 E. Sawmill.
The shooting was the second one of a police officer in northern Arizona in the past three months. In October, a tribal police officer of the Navajo Nation was shot in the face during a shootout with a male suspect in the town of Kaibeto, which is 75 miles north of Flagstaff. The officer survived.