PHOENIX – A police lieutenant from a Phoenix suburb was shot and killed during a traffic stop and after a 50-mile chase, the two suspects stopped in the middle of a road and were wounded in a "gun battle" with officers, authorities said Friday.
Lt. Eric Shuhandler, a veteran of the Gilbert Police Department, was shot at about 11 p.m. Thursday near Mesa and rushed to a hospital where he died, said Gilbert police spokesman Sgt. Mark Marino.
The suspects' vehicle was spotted nearby minutes later and a high-speed chase began along U.S. 60, with several police agencies pursuing the pickup into the remote mining area in the mountains east of metropolitan Phoenix.
The suspects shot at pursuing officers during the chase and items were apparently tossed from the work truck they were driving that disabled several police cars, but no other officers were injured.
"During the pursuit the suspects did fire at officers several times, and debris was either falling out or being thrown out of the truck by the suspects," said Lt. Steve Harrison of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. "Several police vehicles were disabled, but others continued."
The two men stopped the truck in the middle of U.S. 60 near the mining town of Superior and jumped out, Harrison said.
"They engaged in what only can be described as a gun battle with officers," Harrison said.
The two male suspects were wounded in the lower extremities, taken into custody and hospitalized. Both were in stable, non-life-threatening condition Friday morning, according to Harrison said.
The men's names were not released because their identities hadn't been confirmed.
Officers from four police agencies departments were chasing the suspects by the time the chase ended about 60 miles east of central Phoenix.
Marino said authorities were trying to determine what prompted the original traffic stop and why someone in the suspects' vehicle allegedly opened fire.
The violence occurred about 12 minutes into the traffic stop.
Marino said his understanding was Shuhandler was hit by one bullet.
He was the second Arizona law officer to die in the line of duty in recent weeks.
Department of Public Safety officer Chris Marano was struck and killed last month by another officer's patrol car while he was laying down spike strips to stop a vehicle during a high-speed freeway chase in Phoenix.
Harrison said Shuhandler had been with the Gilbert Police Department 16 years.
— Associated Press Writer Bob Christie contributed to this report.