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Navajo Nation Mourns Police Officer Killed in Line of Duty; Suspect Dead

Navajo Police officer shot dead, another in hospital after responding to domestic violence call on Navajo Nation; suspect also dead.
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The Navajo Nation is mourning the shooting death of a tribal police officer who was fatally wounded while responding to a domestic violence call.

Details of the incident were sketchy, and the tribe had not released the name of the officer on Friday morning March 20. The tragedy unfolded on the afternoon of Thursday March 19, the Navajo Nation said in a statement.

“Around 4 p.m., Navajo Police received reports of an armed man holding his family hostage with an AR-15 assault rifle,” the Navajo Nation said. “An officer responded to the domestic violence call and was fired upon by the suspect, who then fled the scene.”

Police officers from the Window Rock and Crownpoint police districts descended to participate in the manhunt, the Navajo Nation said.

“Around 10:30 p.m. tonight, we received word that the suspect was shot to death in Red Valley, Arizona,” the Nation said. “The suspect shot two Navajo Police officers, and one officer died at the scene. The other officer is at Shiprock Medical Center.”

The tribe did not say what condition the officer was in. CNN noted that “it was not immediately clear” whether the suspect had died “from a shootout with police or a self-inflicted wound.”

Police told the Associated Press that the suspect was 24-year-old Justin Fowler. The case remains under investigation, said John Billison, director of Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety, in the tribe’s statement. Navajo Nation spokesman Rick Abasta told the local Daily Times that the FBI would likely take over the investigation.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, who was meeting with the New Mexico legislature at the time, extended the tribe’s sympathy and support.

“We send our condolences to the family of the Navajo Police officer who gave his life in the line of duty tonight,” Shelly said in the tribe’s statement. “The family will be in our prayers.”