Suspect in death of Salt River Officer Jair Cabrera faces first degree murder charges

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Court documents are providing new details in the deadly shooting that claimed the life of a Salt River police officer.

Elijah Loren Arthur, Sr. is facing federal first degree murder charges in the death of Officer Jair Cabrera, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop early Saturday.

According to court paperwork, Cabrera attempted to stop a Pontiac sedan around 3 a.m. near Pima and Chaparral roads. The driver reportedly did not stop immediately, instead traveling past the front of the Chevron station before parking his vehicle.

As the car came to a stop, Arther reportedly exited the vehicle holding a rifle. Court paperwork states Arthur pivoted to face Cabrera's patrol vehicle, positioned the rifle over the roof of the sedan and opened fire.

Arthur fired two shots, first striking the police vehicle's right-side mirror, then striking Cabrera in the head.

According to court documents, he then fled on foot, and could be seen on surveillance footage throwing the rifle into the driveway of the station's car wash.

A second passenger inside the suspect's sedan, later identified as Russell Gutierrez, could also be seen on surveillance camera fleeing the scene after Arthur opened fire. He was located by police later Saturday and taken into custody.

During an interview with FBI agents, Arthur reportedly claimed he did not remember what had happened because he was drunk and had blacked out.

After further questioning, he later changed his story, saying he was shooting at the gas pumps and was not intending to hit the officer, court paperwork states.

Dash camera video from inside Cabrera's vehicle reportedly showed Arthur's first shot striking the vehicle's right-side mirror, then Arthur apparently adjusting his aim and shooting at the driver's side front windshield.

According to court paperwork, federal authorities believe Arthur acted with malice and premeditation, and they are recommending he be charged with first degree murder.

Officials have not yet said what charges Gutierrez and the driver of the sedan may be facing.

Cabrera was the first officer killed in the line of duty at Salt River Police Department.

"A lot of department members are in shock, grief-stricken, it hurts," said Police Chief Patrick Melvin.

A friend of Cabrera's tells ABC15 he was working an overtime shift that night to help support his parents.

Cabrera was a seven year veteran of the police department.

His fellow police officers are now holding each other and their families a little closer.  

"Officers mentioned to me they make sure they hug their family members and relatives before leaving to come to work because it's a dangerous profession. You never know," Chief Melvin said.

Public visitation for Cabrera will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at West Resthaven Mortuary in Glendale, followed by the memorial service at 10 a.m. Friday at Christ Church of the Valley in Peoria.

Burial will follow at Phoenix Memorial Park and Mortuary in Phoenix.




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