Forest Service officer won't face charges in fatal shooting near Mogollon Rim

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- Authorities say a U.S. Forest Service officer won't face criminal charges in a fatal shooting last year.

Coconino County sheriff's officials say evidence collected during their investigation shows Officer Andrew Pederson was defending himself when he fatally shot 66-year-old Courtney James Van Riper on Sept. 19, 2014.

They say Van Riper fired pepper spray into Pederson's face before the officer fired his gun several times.

The County Attorney's report cites an Arizona statute which permits law enforcement to use deadly physical force in self-defense.

Authorities say Van Riper was camping in the Blue Ridge area of the forest.

They say Van Riper was wanted for a felony warrant for probation violation out of Yavapai County, was in possession of a stolen vehicle from Flagstaff and also had a stolen handgun.

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