Navajo police officer killed in line of duty
Domestic violence call leads to shootout, suspect shot and killed
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - A Navajo police officer who was shot and killed March 19 after responding to a domestic violence call was identified as Officer Alex Yazzie. Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly ordered flags to fly at half-mast through March 23.
The Navajo Nation released details of the shooting March 20. Shiprock Police received a call at 2:15 p.m. from Jordon Fowler who said his brother, Justin Fowler, was beating his wife Rayana Ramone and his mother Cecelia Begay with a pistol.
The police communication operator heard shots fired while on the phone with Jordon.
Navajo Police Officer Anderson Dez responded after the suspect had left the scene. After Dez arrived on the scene, 200 yards south of Littlewater Store, Jordon pointed Dez in the direction of U.S. Hwy. 491, where the suspect was parked. Dez reported seeing the suspect in his vehicle, who then shot an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle at Dez. Dez took cover at his police car, which suffered damage, while Dez remained unharmed. The suspect then fled in his vehicle.
At 8:20 p.m., the suspect returned to the Littlewater Store, where a police command center had been set up. He made a u-turn and fled the scene with Navajo Police Lieutenant Phillip Joe and other police officers in pursuit.
On Navajo Route 13, five miles south of the Red Valley Trading Post, the suspect shot his weapon toward approaching police vehicles, disabling the police car operated by Joe. The suspect entered his vehicle and fled the scene toward Lukachukai, Arizona. Responding officers found the suspect's vehicle parked along the roadway approximately 11 miles south of Red Valley Trading Post, where again the suspect shot at officers.
The officers engaged the suspect vehicle as the suspect discharged his weapon from behind. The suspect was then shot and killed by police.
Officer Herbert Frazier was shot in the shin. Officer James Hale was shot in the right leg. Both were transported to nearby medical facilities. Hale was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Officer Alex Yazzie was fatally shot by the suspect.
Yazzie began serving with the Shiprock Police Department in 2012. Prior to his service as a law enforcement officer, Yazzie served as a resource enforcement officer with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency. He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
More than 30 Navajo police officers responded from five police districts: Shiprock, Crownpoint, Window Rock, Chinle, and Kayenta.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation with the Navajo Department of Criminal Investigation.
In a statement Shelly condemned domestic violence and said family disputes need to end so tragedies like this one are not repeated.
"The Navajo Nation mourns the loss of Alex Yazzie, a dedicated Navajo police officer [who] gave his life in the line of duty to protect the lives of others," Shelly said. "We are deeply saddened over his sudden departure."