An Apache Junction man who was shot and killed after he shot an undercover Mesa police officer in the leg at a Fry's grocery store parking lot Tuesday had been released from prison less than a month ago, according to Arizona Department of Corrections records.
Police identified the deceased suspect as Kevin Carlson, 24. A second man, Keith Emmons, 21, also of Apache Junction, was shot and injured by police and remains in critical condition at a local hospital, according to Mesa police.
Carlson, who was sentenced to five years in prison in Sept. 2007 on convictions of misconduct involving weapons and aggravated assault, was released from prison on Dec. 30, 2011. During his time in prison, he faced 16 disciplinary actions for offenses such as assaulting a prison staff member, tampering with security, drug possession and theft, according to prison records.
The incident unfolded after Mesa police pulled into the parking lot of the store - located in Ellsworth Plaza at Ellsworth and Broadway roads - Tuesday evening to apprehend Dan Strahan, a 20-year-old man wanted on a parole violation following his release from prison less than two weeks ago for auto-theft-related offenses.
Police identified Strahan and observed him getting into a car with four other people. The undercover officers then followed the five suspects to the parking lot of the store, and similar to conducting a traffic stop, turned on their flashing lights on their unmarked car, according to Detective Steve Berry, a Mesa police spokesman. Two of the suspects came out of their car firing, causing the officers to return fire, according to police.
After the officer was shot in the leg, another officer returned fire, killing one suspect and injuring another during the shootout. The suspect who shot the officer was the one killed, Berry said.
Earlier reports had said that the officers met the suspects in the parking lot to stage a drug deal; however, Berry said that the incident did not stem from a staged drug deal, and meeting in the parking lot was unplanned.
"That's just where they wound up," Berry said.
Mesa police are not naming the undercover officer, citing safety reasons.
The officer, who has been with the department for eight years, is expected to recover and has since been released from the hospital.
Two women who were also inside the car were arrested by police, and are continuing to investigate the incident.
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