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Police: Man shot after shooting at officer

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Officer-involved shooting

Numerous Willcox Police, Border Patrol and  Cochise County Sheriff’s vehicles lit up the night Thursday near the cordoned-off streets at Cochise and Fremont, where an officer-involved shooting occurred. 

The Willcox police officers involved in last Thursday night’s shooting have now been identified by the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

They are Officer Jose Villa, who has been with the Willcox Police Department since September 2015, and Officer Nicholas Williams, who has been on the force since November 2014, said CCSO Spokeswoman Carol Capas.

She did not indicate in Monday afternoon’s statement which of the officers had been shot.

“The Willcox Police Department expects to have additional information to report once the investigation is complete,” Capas said. 

“In the meantime, the suspect remains in a Tucson-area hospital.  His identity is being withheld pending the investigation, or upon any arrest or charging decision,” she said.

The two officers were shot at during a Sept. 29 traffic stop near the area of Cochise and Fremont Streets.

While a bullet struck one officer in the upper chest, his ballistic vest deflected it up towards to his collarbone, Capas said.

The initial traffic stop took place at 8:07 p.m. Sept. 29, in the 400 block of North Haskell Avenue, while the “shots fired” incident was in the 400 block of North Cochise at 8:20 p.m.

The wounded Willcox Police Officer was taken to Canyon Vista Regional Hospital in Sierra Vista for evaluation, but was not admitted, instead being released Friday morning, Capas said.

At 8:22 p.m., Thursday, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of an officer-involved shooting in Willcox. 

Deputies responded to a private residence in Willcox, meeting with Willcox Police Officers and medics, Capas said.

Initial information indicated that a Willcox police officer spotted a vehicle traveling without headlights and attempted to conduct a traffic stop, she said.

The vehicle did stop and the driver got out of the car and approached the officer, before getting back into his car and leaving.

The officer attempted to stop the vehicle again, at which time a pursuit ensued, Capas said.

A second Willcox Police unit joined the pursuit before the vehicle parked at a home in Willcox. The driver got out of the vehicle a second time, pointing a handgun at one of the officers and firing once before both officers returned fire, she said.

The suspect, a 69-year old Willcox man, was transported to a Tucson hospital for treatment of what “appears to be non-life threatening injuries,” she said.

Both Williams and Villa have been placed on paid administrative leave according to policy and will remain on leave pending the conclusion of the investigation, Capas said.

CCSO is heading a regional investigation that includes the Sierra Vista Police Department, and the 

Cochise County Attorney has been briefed about this incident.

At 9:15 p.m., at the scene, Willcox Police Chief Jose Rios confirmed the shooting, saying, “All my officers are OK, but the suspect is en route to the hospital.”

He told the Range News that CCSO was on its way to the scene and would be the investigating agency.

As the shooting occurred the first night of the annual Rex Allen Days weekend, the community paid tribute to local law enforcement at Friday night’s homecoming football game, as well as during Saturday morning’s parade.


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