Arizona Tribal Officer Killed in Confrontation Near Hon-Dah Casino
Posted on: February 17, 2020, 05:30h.
Last updated on: February 17, 2020, 06:16h.
An Arizona police officer and a violent armed suspect were both killed early Monday during gunfire near the Hon-Dah Resort Casino in Pinetop, Navajo County. The fallen White Mountain Apache Tribe officer was identified by multiple sources as David Kellywood.
The confrontation took place in the Pinetop-Lakeside area in Navajo County, based on initial reports. It is largely a sparsely occupied setting, except for the gaming property.
Police responded to the scene after getting notified at about 1 am Monday that shots were fired. A description was released for a possible suspect, according to a statement from the Navajo County Sheriff’s Office.
The first responding officer spotted a man matching the description given in the initial call. The suspect– who has not been named–immediately engaged the officer in a struggle.
During the altercation, the officer was shot, the sheriff’s statement said.
A second police officer arrived a short time later. He shot the suspect, because the second officer was “fearing for his life and the public’s safety,” the statement added.
Both Officer Kellywood and the suspect were taken to a local hospital, where both were pronounced dead.
The Phoenix office of the FBI has taken over the shooting investigation.
It is unclear if the unnamed suspect had been at the casino that is owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe before the shooting. The venue closes at 1 a.m. on Sunday night into Monday morning.
Eulogies for Fallen Officer
As news of the fatal shooting reached the office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, he released a tweet:
Arizona mourns the loss of White Mountain Apache Police Officer David Kellywood. This tragedy is a reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers face every day. Our prayers are with Officer Kellywood’s family and the entire White Mountain Apache community. #RIP https://t.co/X2rrDHWHCV
— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) February 17, 2020
Our prayers are with Officer Kellywood’s wife, children and loved ones, as well as the White Mountain Apache Tribe. In honor of Officer Kellywood’s life and service, I am ordering flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff,” the governor added.
Kellywood was a 2012 graduate of Lakeside’s Blue Ridge High School. He was described in a statement from school officials as a “great role model for our local kids.
“He was a student athlete, playing basketball for Blue Ridge, and a great family man who leaves behind his loving wife and two sons,” AZFamily.com further reported.
Kellywood’s wife, Kamellia Kellywood, also posted on Facebook on Monday morning: “My husband died doing what he loved. My heart is so broken.”
The casino has over 800 slots, poker, and blackjack. It has been the scene of violent crimes in the past, according to the White Mountain Independent newspaper.
Prior Crimes at Hon-Dah Casino
In August 2017, a man was killed during an apparent failed armored car robbery at the casino. The suspect was identified as Buddy E. Martel, 52, of Hondah.
A cash courier making a stop at the casino was approached by Martel. He allegedly sprayed her with a chemical irritant.
The courier then reportedly pulled out her pistol and shot Martel near the front door of the casino. He fell onto the cement and died shortly thereafter from the wound.
No one else was injured in the shooting. No one else was suspected in the robbery attempt.
The prior month, a robbery occurred at the tribal casino. A middle-aged man fled with an undisclosed amount of money.
He allegedly stole the cash from one of the cashier cages. The suspect was in the casino for less than 90 seconds.
He was described as between 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 7 inches tall, with a slender build, black, white and red facial/head covering, and wearing a gray-blue suit and white shoes.
In 2014, a man was shot and killed by police after he wounded two people, a security officer and a casino player, outside the casino. The assailant got into an argument with his wife in a parking lot of the casino, then took out a rifle from his car, the report adds.