GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Chandler police officer is dead and a Gilbert police officer is in the hospital after a pursuit ended in Gilbert overnight.
According to Chandler police, 50-year-old Officer Christopher Farrar was struck and killed by a suspect driving a stolen vehicle on Thursday night near the SanTan MotorPlex at the Loop 202 Santan Freeway and Val Vista Drive. Farrar was an 18-year veteran of the Chandler police department and worked with the K-9 unit. Police said Gilbert Police Officer Rico Aranda was also hit and taken to the hospital. "Officer Aranda is still in critical condition, but stable, and he has shown signs of improvement," the police department said in a tweet. Aranda has been with the department since 2018. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Aranda family with medical bills.
Chandler Police Department Chief Sean Duggan said, “This is a very difficult time for our department and really the entire Chandler community... Chris (Farrar) was struck and killed by a violent felon in a stolen vehicle following a multi-agency shooting and pursuit."
Gilbert police said the whole incident started in the Eloy area just after 10 p.m., when a Pinal County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) deputy pursued a suspect, later identified as 25-year-old Jonathon Altland. The deputy chased after the truck and Altland started shooting at the PCSO vehicle, police said.
The chase continued into Maricopa County, eventually into Chandler where the Altland drove into a gate at Chandler Regional Airport and onto the runway causing air traffic to stop, officials said. After leaving the airport, Altland jumped out of his vehicle and ran into a car dealership near the Loop 202 and Val Vista and stole a vehicle, police said.
Once in the stolen vehicle, the suspect struck Officer Farrar and Officer Aranda. Farrar later died at a Chandler hospital. A procession for Farrar from Chandler Medical Center to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner happened around 6 a.m. Photos from the procession can be found here.
On Monday, Gilbert Police Chief Michael Soelberg shared a statement on Twitter on Officer Aranda's recovery.
"We are encouraged by Gilbert Police Officer Rico Aranda's recovery progress. We are happy to report that he is responding well to treatment and we expect him to be transferred within a couple days out of ICU and into neurological treatment and recovery. We want to thank all of the medical providers from Dignity Health at Chandler Regional Hospital for their excellent care. We are so thankful for the ongoing support for Officer Rico Aranda and Chandler Officer Christopher Farrar's family. Thank you for your continued support," says Chief Soelberg.
Altland was eventually taken into custody after three PCSO deputies and four DPS troopers fired at him. He was transported to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening. Altland is facing charges of murder, aggravated assault and auto theft.
Three DPS troopers involved in the incident received minor injuries and were transported to an area hospital for treatment. The PCSO deputy involved in the original incident in Eloy was not injured. An employee at San Tan Ford was also injured in the incident and was transported to an area hospital for minor injuries.
Arizona's Family teamed up with the 100 Club to help out the family of Officer Farrar and other families of fallen officers. During a Friday phone bank, there was a $20,000 matching donation from Albertsons and Safeway and two $5,000 donations from Fry’s Food Stores and Luis Gonzalez. As of 9 p.m. on Friday, the current total was $75,445.
On Friday morning, Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags at half-staff to honor Officer Farrar.
“Law enforcement personnel like Officer Christopher Farrar put their lives on the line to protect others and keep our communities safe,” said Governor Ducey. “We are incredibly heartbroken that a criminal’s senseless actions took his life and injured other innocent people. An 18-year veteran of the Chandler Police Department, Officer Farrar was a hero through and through, and his commitment to protecting Arizonans was unwavering. My sincerest condolences go to Officer Farrar’s loved ones, the Chandler Police Department, and the entire law enforcement community during this difficult time. Arizona will continue to pray for those who suffered injuries due to this tragic crime. In honor of Officer Farrar’s life and service, I have ordered flags be lowered to half-staff.”
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