A career criminal with a history of assaulting cops shot and killed a Gilbert police officer Thursday, according to police. Police shot and wounded the two suspects on a mountainous two-lane road after a 50-mile, high-speed chase along U.S. 60 in which the suspects fired shots at cop cars and threw objects at them from their work truck.
A career criminal with a history of assaulting cops shot and killed a Gilbert police officer Thursday, according to police.
Police shot and wounded the two suspects on a mountainous two-lane road after a 50-mile, high-speed chase along U.S. 60 in which the suspects fired shots at cop cars and threw objects at them from their work truck.
“It’s nothing short of a miracle no other officers or members of the public were injured or killed,” said Gilbert police Chief Tim Dorn.
Killed was Lt. Eric Shuhandler, 42, the father of girls ages 10 and 12. Shuhandler’s ex-wife, Deborah Shuhandler, is a Scottsdale police officer.
Shuhandler was a 16-year veteran with Gilbert and worked three years with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office as a detention officer and deputy.
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Sgt. Mark Marino, Gilbert police spokesman, a friend of Shuhandler’s, declined to talk about his interests, hobbies or personal life, but he said: “Lt. Shuhandler is colorful individual. He pretty much enjoys life.”
Police said the suspected shooter is Christopher A. Redondo, a 35-year-old Globe resident. The suspected driver is Daimen Irizarry, 30.
Marino said Shuhandler pulled over the truck at 10:40 p.m. for an obscured license plate.
The traffic stop took place in an expanse of parking lot between a bank and a series of shops at the southeast corner of Val Vista Drive and Baseline Road.
Marino said Shuhandler was the shift commander, and he preferred patrolling rather than sitting at a desk.
Shuhandler checked the backgrounds of the suspects, found a possible warrant for Redondo and called for nonemergency backup.
Redondo shot Shuhandler once in the head as he approached the passenger side of the truck about 12 minutes after the stop, police said.
“The motive for the shooting is not known,” Marino said.
Shuhandler never got his handgun out of its holster.
Marino said there were two eyewitnesses to the shooting, and they rendered first aid and called for help on Shuhandler’s radio.
The area is on the Mesa-Gilbert border, and two Mesa police sergeants who were meeting on the north side of Baseline Road heard the gunshot and responded, but the truck had already fled.
Marino said a Gilbert police officer spotted the truck at Higley and Baseline roads.
Someone in the truck fired on the officer, who began chasing the truck eastbound on U.S. 60.
Eventually 40 to 50 police cars from the Gilbert and Mesa police departments, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Pinal County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Public Safety chased after the truck.
Marino said five police cars became disabled during the chase as the suspects fired shots at them and tossed objects from their truck.
No other officers were injured.
“It was a very massive response,” Marino said. “We had a lieutenant that was mortally wounded. Officers were aware that these suspects where involved in a gun fight. They had shot an officer. They were shooting at other officers.”
The truck stopped in the middle of the highway about six miles west of the border of Gila and Pinal counties.
Both men jumped out, said Lt. Steve Harrison of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
“They engaged in what only can be described as a gun battle with officers,” he said.
They were shot in the lower extremities and were taken to a Valley hospital and are expected to survive.
U.S. 60 between Superior and Globe was closed for several hours Friday as police investigated.
Redondo had been released from prison in 2008 after serving 15 months for stalking, child abuse, aggravated assault and domestic violence.
According to online records, the aggravated assault involved a firefighter, but no further details were immediately available.
Maricopa County Superior Court records show he assaulted a DPS officer on Oct. 1, 2002, and served a 10-day jail sentence and three years’ probation.
The officer, Brandon Powell, complained the plea agreement was too lenient.
Powell said Redondo filed a frivolous police brutality complaint against him that left a blemish on his record.
Redondo had a pattern of filing complaints against officers he assaulted, Powell alleged.
According to a presentence report, Powell stopped a car in which Redondo was a passenger because he was pouring out a bottle of alcohol.
Powell was patting down Redondo and felt a metal object in his pockets. That’s when Redondo turned and punched Powell.
Officers found a pair of pliers on the ground after the scuffle.
Irizarry also has a history of violence.
According to a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office report, he slugged his 15-year-old stepson in the face with an open palm five times in a 2004 incident.
His wife told deputies then that he had assaulted her numerous times, the report states.
The 100 Club, an organization that support public safety families, will be providing financial assistance to the Shuhandler family.
Those wishing to donate directly to the family may do so at any Wells Fargo Bank to the Gilbert Police Department Memorial Account for the Family of Lieutenant Eric Shuhandler, account No. 1359531975. This account information is also available on the 100 Club Web site, at www.100club.org.
Condolences for the Shuhandler family may be sent to the Gilbert Police Department, care of Shuhandler Family, 75 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert, AZ, 85296.
4 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday at Sinai Mortuary, 4538 N. 16th St., Phoenix
11 a.m. Wednesday at Westworld, 16601 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale
After the funeral service, there will be a funeral procession to the graveside service at Mount Sinai Cemetery, 24210 N. 68th St., Phoenix