Man fatally shot in northern Arizona forest ID'd

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- A man fatally shot by a U.S. Forest Service officer in northern Arizona was in possession of a stolen vehicle and handgun and wanted on a felony warrant.

Coconino County Sheriff's officials said Wednesday the dead man was identified as 66-year-old Courtney James VanRiper, whose last known address was in Oklahoma.

They say a Forest Service officer saw a vehicle parked at a temporary campsite south of Clint's Well last Friday with VanRiper inside. He had the DVD player on so loud that communication was difficult and the officer asked him to turn it down.

Officer Douglas A. Pederson asked VanRiper to come out of the vehicle several times and once he did, VanRiper sprayed him in the face with bear repellant.

Sheriff's officials say Pederson fired several shots, VanRiper was hit twice and later died at a Payson hospital.

They say VanRiper had a probation violation warrant out of Yavapai County.

Pederson, 34, has been employed with the Forest Service for 15 years in several capacities and has been a United States Forest Service law enforcement officer for two years.

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