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UPDATE: Authorities release surveillance video of officer-involved shooting in Willcox; suspect identified

Injured trooper was shot in the shoulder and is expected to survive
Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 7:35 AM MST|Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 5:56 PM MST
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WILLCOX, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A suspect and an Arizona DPS trooper were shot Thursday morning at 3:10 a.m., June 10, during a wild incident near Willcox.

According to DPS, the trooper was hit in the shoulder and sustained injuries that are not life-threatening. He was taken to a hospital in Tucson.

The suspect was shot and troopers performed life-saving measures, however, the suspect has died according to an update from officials.

Portions of Interstate 10 near Willcox were closed for several hours but were reopened by 11:30 a.m. Traffic in the area was still heavy and drivers should expect delays.

Authorities said there are two crime scenes, one at West Airport Road and Quail Drive. The second is on I-10.

DPS said a trooper clocked a vehicle going 111 mph about 35 miles from Willcox and stopped the driver. The trooper exited his patrol vehicle and contacted the driver; while explaining the reason for the stop, the driver accelerated away, and a pursuit was initiated utilizing emergency lights and siren, according to officials. The suspect continued driving the vehicle towards Willcox at speeds reaching over 100 miles per hour.

Around the Old Stewart Road Exit (No. 344), officers deployed spikes to stop the suspect. The driver later crashed near Fort Grant Road Exit (No. 340). Officials say the suspect continued to flee and was slowed by punctured tires. The trooper conducted a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT), which caused the suspect’s vehicle to rotate. During the rotation, the driver fired a handgun at the trooper multiple times, striking the trooper’s vehicle and shooting the trooper. Officials say one went through the trooper’s windshield and hit him in the shoulder.

Troopers and Willcox Police Department Officers conducted a high-risk approach to the vehicle and determined the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle had fled on foot into a residential neighborhood.

The suspect was discovered inside of a vehicle near a residence. Contemporaneously, the homeowner reported to police a suspicious subject at their home. Law enforcement officers responded and surrounded the residence.

Officials say the suspect exited the vehicle armed with a handgun and refused law enforcement commands to surrender. The suspect accessed the front door of the occupied residence with the gun in hand. Due to the extreme violence demonstrated by the suspect and the refusal to obey commands to surrender, law enforcement officers recognized the suspect was an immediate threat to the life and safety of those inside the home; after again attempting to get the suspect to surrender, law enforcement utilized lethal force to protect both the residents and themselves. Law enforcement officers immediately initiated lifesaving measures on the suspect, after which he was transported to a local hospital. He was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.

The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Josiah L. Byard from Georgia.

The Cochise County Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) was activated with investigators from the Sierra Vista Police Department, Willcox Police Department, Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, and County Attorney Brian McIntyre responding to assist in the investigation.

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the criminal investigation as lead agency with review and oversight from the Cochise County Attorneys’ Office, while DPS will conduct a concurrent internal investigation.

The trooper was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson, where he underwent surgery for his gunshot wound. We are hopeful the trooper will make a full recovery.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said of this incident, “I am glad the officer shot will hopefully recover, and the other law enforcement officers/deputies involved in this incident are safe after this critical situation. The dangers of law enforcement officers face are real as illustrated today. Based upon the evidence gathered thus far, the suspect made some fatal decisions ultimately resulting in this use of deadly force by the officers on scene. The training by these officers to protect themselves and their communities was a key component to their survival and the protection of our citizens.”

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