ASH FORK, Ariz. – An armed and uniformed volunteer for an Arizona sheriff's office may have been lured to a property where he was shot and wounded while trying to find a speeding ATV, authorities said Friday.
The 70-year-old volunteer was shot Thursday evening while exiting his marked sheriff's vehicle, and Yavapai County sheriff's spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said a 24-year-old man who lives at the property in a rural subdivision near Ash Fork later surrendered and was arrested on suspicion of attempted homicide.
The volunteer, who was hit in the pelvic area by three rifle shots as he got out of his vehicle, was recovering after undergoing surgery at a Flagstaff hospital for wounds described as not life-threatening, D'Evelyn said.
D'Evelyn says preliminary information indicates that the volunteer may have been ambushed after being lured to the gate of the property by the speeding all-terrain vehicle.
There's a court order to evict people from the property but a possible motive for the shooting wasn't clear, D'Evelyn said. "There's been an issue with enforcing this writ ... this has been ongoing for several weeks."
The arrested man, Jason Niedermeyer, would be booked into the county jail later Friday, D'Evelyn said.
"He's been confrontational in the past but nothing to this level," D'Evelyn said of Niedermeyer.
No telephone is listed in the Ash Fork area in Niedermeyer's name, and D'Evelyn said he didn't know if Niedermeyer had an attorney.
Several other people at the property, including Niedermeyer's parents, were detained without incident but not immediately arrested as authorities continued their investigation, D'Evelyn said. "There's a lot to shake out."
D'Evelyn said the volunteer was shot as he picked up papers that blew out of his vehicle when he opened the door. After being wounded, the volunteer sought cover as shots were fired from a nearby home. He was able to get back into the vehicle and drive away while requesting assistance, the spokesman said.
Over 20 shots were fired toward the volunteer and his vehicle, D'Evelyn said.
Officers from several agencies responded, and officers found numerous guns in buildings on the property, including a .50-caliber rifle, as well as pipe bombs, the sheriff's spokesman said.
The response included the sheriff's office's armored tactical vehicle and a state Department of Public Safely helicopter.
D'Evelyn said sheriff's volunteers drive marked sheriff's vehicles but wear uniforms colored differently from those of regular deputies.
Though armed and uniformed, the sheriff's volunteers are not sworn officers and not permitted to make arrests. They perform various duties, including patrol and prisoner transport.