Suspected arsonist allegedly shoots at fire official in Coconino County

Jul 9, 2017, 3:24 PM | Updated: 3:41 pm
The suspect's picture taken a couple days ago by a security camera -- ICP, located at Canyon Point ...
The suspect's picture taken a couple days ago by a security camera -- ICP, located at Canyon Point Campground

PHOENIX — Several law enforcement agencies continue looking for a suspected arsonist in Coconino County east of Payson who allegedly shot at a forest service employee on the morning of July 4.

Agencies confirmed Sunday that the suspect was last seen near Highway 60 and Cibecue Road on the Apache Reservation around 3-4 p.m. Saturday. Investigators believe he is headed toward Mexico.

When a forest service crew was out checking on suspected arson-caused fires that began July 3 in the Forest Lakes area, they were surprised by the suspect the next morning, who was identified that day as a person of interest when a photo from surveillance was released.

“The man was hiding in some bushes, jumped up and actually took shots at the forest service employee,” Rick Crabbs with the Forest Lakes Fire Department said. “Fortunately nobody was injured.”

Crabbs said it all started when crews were alerted to forest fires in the area just south of the Forest Lakes subdivision.

“When fire units first responded they located eight intentionally set fires,” Crabbs said. “The largest of that was about three-quarters of an acre.”

After crews worked to get those fires under control, officials released the photo of the man.

Crabbs said the man is described as a Hispanic male, about 5-foot-9 wearing blue jeans, tan boots, camouflaged backpack and a blue hat with no facial hair.

“We have the Department of Public Safety here, we have the FBI here, we have Coconino County Sheriffs, [and] we have the law enforcement officers for the Apache-Sitgreaves also here,” he said.

Crabbs said they believe they have the man cornered in a four square mile area.

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Suspected arsonist allegedly shoots at fire official in Coconino County