Suspect in shooting of tribal officer charged with assault
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — An arrest warrant has been issued for a man suspected of shooting and injuring a police officer with the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
A criminal complaint made public Friday charges Valentin Rodriguez, 39, with assaulting two tribal officers and discharging a firearm in a violent crime. The FBI continued its search for Rodriguez who fled from the shooting Wednesday night on foot.
Sgt. Preston Brogdon, a five-year veteran of the tribal police force, was shot in the abdomen as he and another Yavapai-Apache officer responded to a call about shots fired in a housing area near the Verde River.
Brogdon was in critical but stable condition Friday when he underwent major surgery, tribal officials said.
“Your prayers have been heard and were witnessed this afternoon,” said Yavapai-Apache Nation police Chief Nathan Huibregtse. “Today’s surgery was a critical step towards recovery.”
Brogdon’s wife, Bailey, said Friday that she’s been overwhelmed by the support for her husband and family.
“Preston is very strong,” she said in a statement released by the sheriff’s office. “He is physically strong, and he has a sort of stubbornness I think he got from being a Marine. So, I know he will make it through this.”
The FBI and the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office are overseeing the investigation.
A witness reported hearing gunshots Wednesday night and later told police she thought she heard officers telling a man to drop his gun, and he responded by saying “something about being left alone,” according to the criminal complaint. The witness said the man walked away from a vehicle then fired at Brogdon and another officer before running off, the complaint states.
Officers found a semi-automatic rifle and ammunition near the vehicle, according to court documents.
Rodriguez’s daughter, who wasn’t identified in the court documents, said she was talking to her father on the phone Wednesday night, and he told her he saw two officers with guns before she heard multiple gunshots.
A search of Rodriguez’s home turned up other firearms and ammunition, despite his unsuccessful attempt to restore his right to possess firearms after a felony weapons conviction in 2005, FBI Special Agent John Garcia wrote in an affidavit.
Rodriguez is charged with two counts of assaulting a federal officer and two counts of discharging a firearm in a violent crime. The federal charges were possible because Brogdon and his fellow officer have what are called special law enforcement certifications with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs that allow them to investigate federal crimes on the tribe’s reservation.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office was coordinating a campaign to raise money for Brogdon’s family to help cover medical expenses, child care and other bills, said sheriff’s office spokeswoman Laura Bauer.
Brogdon is the father of four young children.
“The Brogdons are dealing with enough right now, so if we as a community can take at least this one thing off their plate, we want to do that for them,” Yavapai County Sheriff David Rhodes said in a statement.
Yavapai Apache Nation Chairman Jon Huey said Friday that the tribe is “heartbroken” about the shooting but grateful for the support and prayers from law enforcement agencies and others across Arizona.
Yavapai Silent Witness and the FBI are offering a combined reward of up to $15,000 for information leading to an arrest