Suspect involved in a standoff with Chandler police Friday has died

Posted: Updated:
Nathan Daniel Griffis, 37 (Source: Chandler Police Department) Nathan Daniel Griffis, 37 (Source: Chandler Police Department)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: ADOT camera) (Source: ADOT camera)

A standoff between police and a reportedly armed man who had holed up inside a Chandler business after a fire and shooting were reported at a nearby motel ended with the suspect being taken to the hospital Friday. 

Chandler police have identified the man as 37-year-old Nathan Daniel Griffis.

According to Chandler PD, Griffis died from his injuries in the hospital Saturday morning.

Police went into the building at about 3 p.m. and discovered Griffis with an "apparent" self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police. Aerial video showed paramedics loading the person into an ambulance. 

[MUGSHOT: Nathan Daniel Griffis]

We have learned Griffis was also wanted for questioning by Mesa police in an arson, burglary and vehicle theft case.

The case is also getting attention thanks to a long rant he posted on his Facebook page the day before the incident.

This all started more than three hours earlier at about 11:30 a.m. The Chandler Police Department said they were called to assist with a room fire at the Super 8 on Chandler Boulevard between Interstate 10 and 56th Street.

"Police observed a male fleeing the area and saw him go to [sic] a nearby business," Mejia wrote in an email responding to our inquiries.

The Chandler Fire Department had tweeted a few minutes earlier that "crews from multiple departments" were responding to a fire at the Super 8.

Mejia said upon further investigation, it was determined that the suspect pointed a handgun at several people outside the Super 8 Motel and also fired several rounds while fleeing.

Investigators confirmed one of those rounds struck a passing vehicle but they do not know how many rounds were fired or if the suspect intentionally shot at people as he fled. No injuries were reported at either scene, officials said.

"Police believe the suspect is armed and may be the person responsible for setting the fire. At this point, officers have set up a perimeter at the location where the suspect was last seen."

Mejia said the suspect holed up in a business after ordering the employees who were there to leave. That business was Holsum Bakery.

"It just happened so fast," said Darvin Roth, who was working at the bakery at the time. "They just told us to get out, so we all just ran out of there."

"They said, 'Go, go, there’s a gun, someone has a gun, run out!" said Alfonso Cruz, also working at the bakery at the time. "I just thought it was a joke and started running."

[PHOTOS: Police situation in Chandler]

Investigators were working to identify the suspect and talk him out of the building in an effort to bring the situation to a peaceful end.

Mejia said some other nearby businesses were evacuated as a precaution.

Early on in the incident, the Chandler Police Department tweeted that it has officers at 54th and Galveston streets, which is north of Chandler Boulevard, for a "police situation."

"Please stay out of the area," it warned. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation tweeted a similar traffic warning and said that eastbound Chandler Boulevard is closed at 54th Street. It later tweeted that Chandler Boulevard was closed east from I-10.

A woman who works at a Circle K across the street told the 3TV/CBS 5 news desk somebody fired shots and set his room on fire. In addition, an employee at the nearby Jiffy Lube said he heard gunfire and then saw officers chasing somebody.

A second Jiffy Lube employee said he actually saw the suspect firing, but Mejia said officers on the scene have not confirmed that.

Cheryl Bennett, who also works nearby, told Derek Staahl and Jaime Cerreta that she saw "three SWAT teams members" running after somebody, but she did not see the suspect.

No other injuries were reported.

Quentin Mehr of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said troopers were on the scene assisting.

[MAP: 7171 W. Chandler Blvd.

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