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Suspect in Phoenix-area deputy’s shooting identified, found dead

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PHOENIX — A suspect in the shooting a Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy has died in an apparent suicide.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said the 51-year-old Robert Walesa shot himself Wednesday morning when detectives arrived at his Tempe apartment to question him about the Saturday shooting of Deputy Bryan Wisda.

Arpaio said Walesa had been released from custody on a DUI four hours before the shooting.

There had been a $40,000 reward in place for information on Walesa. An initial private donation was doubled when the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office contributed another $20,000.

Wisda wasn’t the arresting officer, but he was working on drunken driving enforcement in Tempe and had stopped another car.

The 10-year veteran of the force was shot twice in the leg near Price Road and University Drive.

Investigators came across an older Cadillac in Tempe on Wednesday that fit the description of the car that was seen driving away from Wisda’s shooting. The car was found close to the shooting area.

“There was no interaction between the individual who fired the shots and the deputy, which leads to the conclusion that the only reason for the shooting was the deputy’s status as a law enforcement officer and that cannot be tolerated,” Montgomery said this week.

Wisda has been released from a hospital.

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