UPDATE: The Cochise County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) this afternoon (Sept. 3) released photos of three "persons of interest" in the Aug. 28 assault on National Park Service (NPS) employee Karen Gonzales of Willcox.
"These subjects were seen in the area in the day(s) leading up to the assault taking place," said CCSO Spokeswoman Carol Capas.
If anyone has information on these subjects, please contact the CCSO at (520) 432-9501, she said.
The Cochise County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) has released a surveillance photo of the suspect in last Wednesday's assault on National Park Service (NPS) Employee Karen Gonzales of Willcox.
The image is from a surveillance video located at a Burger King restaurant in Douglas and was taken Wednesday afternoon, the same day the assault occurred, said CCSO Spokeswoman Carol Capas.
The grainy image shows what appears to be a man with dark hair in the driver’s seat of what the Sheriff’s Office has confirmed to be the government issued silver Dodge Dakota pickup belonging to Gonzales.
“This is positively identified as her vehicle,” she told the Range News.
We asking anyone with information on this case or the possible identity of this subject to contact to Sheriff's Office at (520) 432-9500, Capas said.
All information received will remain confidential.
Gonzales' condition is improving at University Medical Center in Tucson after the assault in the Chiricahua National Monument, south of Willcox.
A park guide with the NPS, Gonzales was found unconscious in a picnic area restroom near the Faraway Ranch, Capas said.
Michelle Fidler, a public information officer for NPS, said a park researcher, who is not an NPS employee, found the victim in the bathroom at 12:30 p.m. and ran back up the road to the headquarters (near the visitors center), where it was reported to NPS by 12:45 p.m.
The park reseracherwho found Gonzales reported that she appeared to have head trauma, and that it was unknown if she had fallen, Capas said.
NPS emergency medical personnel responded and began treating Gonzales, she said.
Fidler said NPS called HCI ambulance directly for assistance transporting Gonzales.
When HCI medical personnel arrived, it was determined that the best course of action would be for Gonzales to be airlifted to a Tucson hospital for further treatment, said Capas.
Fidler said HCI transported Gonzales to the heli-spot nearby to be airlifted to UMC.
It was not until about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, that the sheriff's office received a call about the assault, Capas said.
Gonzales' government vehicle could not be found in the area, prompting an "attempt to locate" to be issued throughout the County, she said.
It was given to all local law enforcement agencies and Ports of Entry for the stolen vehicle, which was identified as a silver Dodge Dakota truck with government license plates, Capas said.
Sheriff's Officers tracked Gonzales' cellphone, which was reportedly in the vehicle at the time it was stolen, she said.
The search led them to Douglas, where the vehicle was found at about 7 p.m., Capas said.
Capas said Wednesday night that a search warrant was being sought to process the vehicle for evidence. But on Thursday, Capas said the vehicle would now be taken directly to the Arizona Department of Public Safety's crime lab in Tucson and the report would be given to the Sheriff's Office, NPS, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which are working together on the investigation, she said.
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels issued the following statement last Wednesday night: “We have all available resources dedicated to this case and we are working closely with our local, state, and federal partners to identify the suspect(s) who apparently seriously injured a federal employee, before stealing her vehicle and fleeing the area.”
“We will be diligent in our efforts to find those who are responsible for this senseless act and our thoughts and prayers are with her family in this very sad and stressful time,” he said.