FBI, DPS SWAT join search for suspected arsonist who shot at Forest Service worker

Posted: Updated:
(Source: Coconino County Sheriff's Office) (Source: Coconino County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Forest Lakes Fire District) (Source: Forest Lakes Fire District)
(Source: Eric Neitzel) (Source: Eric Neitzel)
(Source: Source: Forest Lakes Fire District) (Source: Source: Forest Lakes Fire District)
(Source: Eric Neitzel) (Source: Eric Neitzel)

The FBI, Department of Public Safety SWAT and the Navajo County Sheriff's Office have joined the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Forest Service officials in the search for a suspected arsonist who shot at a Forest Service worker and then took off.

The suspect was last seen Saturday afternoon in Cibecue near Highway U.S. 60, Coconino County Sheriff's Office tells 3TV/CBS 5. The suspect was wearing the same clothes as the ones in the photos of him.

He is considered armed and dangerous. If he is seen, contact law enforcement immediately and do not approach him.

The incident happened at about 10 a.m. Tuesday. The Forest Service employee was not injured.

The Forest Lakes Fire District released a surveillance photo of the man they are calling a person of interest in a series of fires near Pond Circle south of State Route 260 less than a mile from Canyon Point Campground.

"Residents of the campground have been evacuated as a precaution," according to the Forest Lakes Fire District. There are 105 campsites on the grounds and all civilians have been evacuated.

Authorities are scaling back their search for the suspected arsonist, allowing law enforcement to release the campground back to U.S. Forest Services and its concessionaire that run the campground. However, the campground still remains closed at this time.

While Forest Lakes residents are not being evacuated, the Forest Lake Fire District is advising to them to be "extremely vigilant."

"If they could, it might be a good time to go for a visit with friends that would remove them from any potential interaction with the suspect," according to a Forest Lakes Fire District post on Facebook."This is not an evacuation order, by any means, just a suggestion that would create a potentially safer environment for those of you who do live south of 260."

Smoke and fire were reported Monday afternoon south of the 260 between Canyon Point Campground and Merzville Road.

According to the Forest Lake Fire District, there were a total of eight fires, all of which “appear to be under control.” The largest fire was about three-fourths of an acre.

“Some smoke may still be visible and with our light breezes that trend out of the SW you may smell smoke through the night,” a spokesman told 3TV and CBS 5 in an email.

The Forest Lakes Fire District said all of the fires appeared to have been “human caused and arson cannot be ruled out.”

The Forest Lakes Fire District released a photo of a person who “was seen in the area yesterday [Sunday] and is a person of interest.”

  • Hispanic male
  • 5'8"-5'10"
  • Camouflaged backpack
  • Blue jeans
  • Tan boots
  • Blue hat
  • No facial hair

There is an active search for this man underway.

“It is reported that he has been seen out in the forest in our area over the last month,” according to the Forest Lakes Fire District. "He appears to be familiar with the forest and may be on the move."

The Forest Service crew that found itself in the man's crosshairs after trying to contact him said he might be armed with a shotgun and a pistol. He is to be considered armed and dangerous, the Forest Lakes Fire District said.

If you know this man or know where he might be, the Forest Lakes Fire District would like you to call 911 and report it.

The Coconino County Arizona Emergency Management was in the process of notifying people about the situation via its CodeRED community notification system.

[PDF: New photos of suspect from Coconino County Sheriff's Office]

[PDF: Original wanted flyer from Coconino County Sheriff's Office]

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