Flagstaff police shoot, kill suspect near NAU

Posted at 9:16 AM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 22:03:46-04

A man who brandished and fired a handgun while walking near the Northern Arizona University campus was killed by police Monday in a shootout after he tried to carjack a vehicle in a busy intersection, authorities said.

The shooting of Verl Bedonie, 26, of Tuba City, happened during the morning commute in a residential area a few blocks from downtown Flagstaff. No one other than Bedonie was hurt, said police Sgt. Margaret Bentzen.

She said Bedonie repeatedly ignored commands to drop his weapon. At one point, he held a motorist at gunpoint, demanding that he be driven to Phoenix, Bentzen said.

An undercover officer in an unmarked vehicle put a stop to the plan by ramming the car. Once out of the vehicle, Bedonie raised the gun toward officers and fired a single shot, Bentzen said. Flagstaff police Sgt. Collin Seay and NAU police Officer Dillon Jenkins returned fire, killing Bedonie.

"The officers took the measures they needed to," Bentzen said.

Seay and Jenkins have been placed on standard, administrative leave and are receiving support from within their departments to cope with the shooting, Bentzen said. Police did not specify how many shots were fired from the officers' weapons or where Bedonie was hit.

A bullet from one officer's gun went through the wall of a home behind Bedonie, hitting a dog inside. Bentzen said the dog is expected to recovery after surgery.

Two other officers from the Flagstaff Police Department earlier fired a handful of shots at Bedonie while he was walking through the parking lot of a hotel on the NAU campus and pointed his gun at police, but none hit Bedonie.

The incident unfolded when officers responded to a report of an armed man inside a conference center on the NAU campus confronting a man nearby, police said in a statement.

Police say Bedonie ran through an alley before making his way to the carjacking site about two blocks from the conference center and an adjacent hotel and parking garage. He also pointed his gun at a taxi cab driver at a car wash, Bentzen said.

Witnesses said they saw several police officers crouching behind their cars with weapons drawn, shouting at the man to stop. Schools in the area were placed on lockdown.

Tammy Linares, 33, was taking her two children to school when traffic was slowed on Milton Road as police pursued the man. She said the man walked casually in front of her car with a blank expression on his face, an aluminum can in his left hand and something in his right hand. He then went up a small hill and disappeared behind a grocery store.

"I stared at him, and he kind of looked over at me, and I thought, `Oh my gosh, he's got a gun,' " she said.