PHOENIX — A Flagstaff, Arizona, officer and one man have died after exchanging gunfire Saturday afternoon.
Flagstaff police said Officer Tyler Jacob Stewart, 24, tried to make contact around 1:30 p.m. in the 800 block of West Clay Avenue with a suspect who was involved in an earlier domestic-violence case.
Police said the suspect, 28-year-old Robert William Smith, and Stewart engaged in a conversation about the alleged domestic events, and at no time did the conversation become confrontational. Stewart then asked to check the suspect for weapons. The suspect then allegedly reached for a gun he had in his pocket and fired multiple times at Stewart from approximately two feet away.
Police said preliminary investigations have indicated Stewart did not have time to return fire. Investigations also show that the suspect continued to fire at Stewart once he was down, then walked away from the immediate area and died of a self-inflicted gun shot.
Police said Smith, a Prescott resident, was pronounced dead at the scene. Stewart was taken to Flagstaff Medical Center in critical condition and later died.
Stewart was less than one year into his job with Flagstaff PD. He graduated from Boulder Creek High School in Anthem and Concordia College in California.
“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 from the Flagstaff PD.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer responded to Stewart’s death Saturday evening.
In memory and honor of @FlagstaffPolice Officer Tyler Jacob Stewart, state flags will be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Sunday.
— Jan Brewer (@GovBrewer) December 28, 2014
Flagstaff police said they have received “a great deal of outpouring of support” from the community. Stewart’s family and Flagstaff PD will host a candlelight vigil Sunday at 5:30 p.m. near the Officer Down Memorial Statue at the front of the department at 911 E. Sawmill Road.
An account has been established at Wells Fargo on behalf of Stewart’s family. Donations can be made to account number 7764473984.
Saturday’s shooting incident remains under investigation and the Northern Arizona Law Enforcement multi-agency shooting team is assisting with the effort.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.