PHOENIX - A carjacking suspect was fatally shot by police Tuesday after officers rammed a stolen SUV to try to keep it from leaving an underground parking garage in the heart of downtown Phoenix.
The suspect, who was not immediately identified, had stolen an SUV at gunpoint in the garage after driving there in a vehicle he had stolen in northwest Phoenix, police Sgt. Trent Crump said.
Police had used a helicopter and unmarked vehicles to trail the suspect into downtown Phoenix after one of two occupants in the original stolen vehicle pointed a gun at pursuing officers, Crump said.
The stolen vehicle then drove into a garage at CityScape, a high-rise commercial and office development near City Hall and several courthouses, where the suspect carjacked a 53-year-old female attorney at gunpoint.
Crump said an officer suffered a leg injury after being run over by another police vehicle trying to ram the suspect's car. The officer's condition also wasn't available, but Crump said he is expected to be OK.
The second person in the stolen vehicle, Jessica Hicks, 23, was arrested. It was not immediately clear whether she was in the SUV when it was rammed.
Police said Hicks is facing 1st degree murder and armed robbery charges, based on Arizona's felony murder rule.
Crump said under Arizona law, if a suspect commits a felony offense and a death results, that suspect will face charges relating to that death.
"If you engage in that kind of conduct you are going to be responsible for the results if something happens to someone, and that's the way it should be," said Crump.
"Police drew their weapons, I looked, saw their big military vehicle push the SUV like it was a tonka toy up against the building so hard," said Rick Jenkins, who watched it all unfold from across the street.
"I heard police say, 'get out with your hands up,' and there was one gun shot," he said.
Dozens of other witnesses saw it all happen in the busy downtown intersection. And not everyone was on the ground. Some had a bird's eye view from the high rise buildings.
"We saw this guy come out from this building, got hit by SWAT and everything happened," said Hiri Heras, a construction worker.
Heras and his coworkers ate at the Subway restaurant and headed up to the 19th floor of the Palomar Hotel just minutes before everything unfolded. He watched it happen from a balcony.
He thanked police for their quick thinking. He said his boss and several other pedestrians were on the sidewalk when the suspect came barreling through.
"If it wasn't for that, my boss would've gotten run over," Heras said.
The shooting and subsequent investigation slowed light rail service through downtown Phoenix. Because a street was closed, the system had to run trains in two directions on tracks that normally carry trains only one way.
The shooting occurred two weeks after a Phoenix police detective was fatally wounded and another detective was hurt in a shootout with a homicide suspect in west Phoenix.