TONOPAH, Ariz. – A man accused of killing his neighbor later opened fire on an officer at a highway rest stop in the Arizona desert, setting off a shootout with law enforcement that left the suspect critically wounded, authorities said.
The gunbattle came after a truck driver on Interstate 10 reported being shot at, leaving him with minor injuries from metal or glass fragments. A state trooper who was looking for the suspect came upon the trucker, then pulled into the rest area, where he was met with gunfire, the Department of Public Safety said.
Multiple officers from several agencies responded to the shooting and took part in the gunfight, including state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents. No officers were injured.
Authorities were still trying to determine if the suspect, Sladjan Petkovic, 36, had fired at the truck. It’s not clear if officers wounded him or whether he shot himself, Department of Public Safety Capt. Tony Mapp said.
The shootout left Petkovic’s SUV riddled with bullet holes, according to a photo on Facebook by the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office. A helicopter flew him to a hospital, where he has life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
A 36-mile (58-kilometer) stretch of westbound Interstate 10, the main route between Phoenix and Los Angeles, was closed for over five hours Tuesday morning after the shooting at the rest area about 95 miles (153 kilometers) west of Phoenix. The closure backed up traffic for miles.
The trooper at the rest stop was looking for Petkovic after Phoenix police sent out a notice, Mapp said.
Petkovic is a suspect in the shooting death of neighbor Steven Arvallo during an argument Monday on the sidewalk outside Arvallo’s home. The shooter then fired into Arvallo’s house, but a woman and boy inside were not injured, Phoenix police Sgt. Jonathan Howard said.
Petkovic and Arvallo were neighbors and had an ongoing dispute of some sort, Howard said.
Arvallo was a longtime employee of the Arizona Department of Corrections. In an email to staff Tuesday, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan called Steven Arvallo a loving son, husband and father who left behind a wife and two children.
The 45-year-old previously worked as a correctional K-9 officer until his retirement in October 2015. He later returned to work and was promoted to background investigator about a year ago.
Department spokesman Andrew Wilder said the agency would not comment further on the circumstances of Arvallo’s death.
This story has been corrected with the correct spelling of the victim’s name.