ASH FORK, Ariz. (AP) — A father and son were booked Friday on charges of attempted murder after authorities say they shot and wounded an armed and uniformed sheriff’s office volunteer in northern Arizona.
Jason Niedermeyer, 24, attempted to take sole blame for the shooting Thursday evening, but detectives learned that his father, Gregory, fired the first rounds at what they both thought was a deputy, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said Friday. The 70-year-old volunteer was hit three times in the pelvic area, but he managed to make it to his marked vehicle and drove off, D’Evelyn said.
Jason Niedermeyer surrendered just before midnight Thursday, and authorities later arrested his 49-year-old father without incident. Officers from several agencies responded to the property south of Ash Fork and found marijuana crops and numerous guns in buildings, including a .50-caliber rifle, as well as pipe bombs, D’Evelyn said.
The volunteer had tracked an all-terrain vehicle that sped past him to the property where the Niedermeyers live. He was ambushed at the gate as he picked up papers that blew out of his vehicle when he opened the door, D’Evelyn said.
Jason Niedermeyer told authorities he didn’t start shooting until after the volunteer buckled from an earlier hit from his father’s weapon. The Niedermeyers switched to other rifles after the ones they were using malfunctioned, D’Evelyn said. Gregory Niedermeyer was firing a .50-caliber rifle at the volunteer’s vehicle as he drove away, authorities said.
More than 20 shots were fired at the volunteer, who was recovering Friday at a hospital in Flagstaff. His injuries are not life-threatening.
D’Evelyn said Jason Niedermeyer told authorities that he surrendered because he believed his family could be harmed. D’Evelyn said he’s been confrontational in the past “but nothing to this level.”
No telephone listing could be found in the Ash Fork area for Niedermeyer, and D’Evelyn said he didn’t know if the family had an attorney.
Maria Niedermeyer also was arrested at the property and charged with producing marijuana, but she wasn’t involved in the shooting.
Though armed and uniformed, the sheriff’s volunteers are not sworn officers and not permitted to make arrests. They perform various duties, including patrol and prisoner transport. They drive marked sheriff’s vehicles undistinguishable from those that deputies drive and wear similarly colored uniforms.