One dead, two shot in 17-person all-out melee in Walmart parking lot

Posted at 4:55 PM, Mar 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-23 16:55:09-04

COTTONWOOD, AZ — One of the nine suspects was killed. Another was shot in the stomach.  All eight responding officers were injured, including one 10-year veteran who required surgery.

It’s the aftermath of an all-out melee in a Walmart parking lot in Cottonwood, Arizona, a town of 11,000 people about an hour’s drive south of Flagstaff.

But details are murky outside of the injury and arrest reports.

What’s known, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety statement released by spokesman Raul Garcia, is that someone at the store called the Cottonwood Police Department a few minutes before midnight Saturday to report that a woman who worked at Walmart “had been assaulted in the store by multiple suspects.”

The suspects were in the parking lot when police responded, and they immediately attacked the officers, the DPS statement said. Two suspects were shot, one in the abdomen and one fatally, while one of the suspects shot a Cottonwood officer in the leg, according to DPS.

“The suspects involved were all from the same family. We believe they are from Idaho because of the license plate on their vehicle,” DPS spokesman Bart Graves told CNN.

The condition of the suspect who was shot in the stomach was not known.

Seven other suspects were taken into custody, the statement said, and “a total of eight officers and another (Walmart) employee were assaulted in the parking lot during the fight. Seven of those officers sustained minor injuries to include lacerations and bruising.”

The Walmart employee, who was a loss prevention officer, had a broken arm, Graves said.

The 31-year-old officer who suffered the gunshot wound was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center, where he underwent surgery. The veteran officer is expected to make a full recovery, according to the statement.

The Cottonwood Police Department and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office directed media questions to DPS.

Asked for additional information, Arizona DPS spokesman Bart Graves said, “This is a very complex investigation, we are still sorting things out and there are a lot of witnesses to talk to, so we are in the early stages.”

He added, “We were asked by Cottonwood police to conduct a criminal investigation.”