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Chandler police officer struck by car, killed during pursuit

(Chandler Police Photo; KTAR News Photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX – One Valley police officer was killed and another critically injured after a confrontation with a suspect late Thursday in Gilbert.

Chandler Police Officer Christopher Farrar, 50, died after he was struck by a man in a stolen car during a pursuit.

The chase, which began around 10:10 p.m. in Pinal County, ended at the SanTan Motorplex near Loop 202 and Val Vista Drive. The driver was taken into custody after a multiple-agency effort that included gunfire with four Department of Public Safety troopers.

The suspect was identified as 25-year-old Jonathon Altland. Authorities said he is facing charges of murder, aggravated assault and auto theft.

Gilbert Police officer Rico Aranda, a member of the department since 2018, was also struck by the vehicle and taken to a hospital, where he remains in critical condition.

Police said Altland had shot at a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy in Eloy during a traffic stop on State Route 87 for speeding. A bullet hit the patrol unit’s windshield, but the deputy was not injured.

Altland fled, got to the Chandler Municipal Airport and crashed through a fence and drove onto the runaway, shutting down the facility. The driver managed to stay ahead of law enforcement and reach the San Tan freeway, heading in the wrong direction.

Eventually, the driver crossed into Gilbert, crashed on a ramp and ran to a car dealership. Once there, he got another car to continue the escape effort, police said. An employee at the dealership was injured.

Farrar and the Gilbert officer were struck by the car, police said, adding three Pinal County deputies also fired at Altland, who was taken to a hospital with an undisclosed injury.

Law enforcement from the Chandler Police Department, Gilbert Police Department and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office also were involved in the pursuit.

Farrar was an 18-year veteran of the force and was recently assigned to the K-9 unit.

“I knew Chris and I can tell you every day he came to work he made a difference,” Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan said early Friday.

“He touched many lives.”

Aranda suffered a serious head injury, police said. Three troopers suffered injuries that weren’t life-threatening.

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags on all state of Arizona buildings lowered to half-staff in Farrar’s honor. The flags will remain in that position until sunset Friday.

The 100 Club of Arizona, which provides financial assistance to families of first responders grievously hurt or killed in the line of duty is accepting donations in Farrar’s memory on its website.

It was the second shooting of the year involving DPS in the Valley and 18th overall by law enforcement, according to KTAR News 92.3 FM research.

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