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home : latest news : local December 17, 2014

8/13/2014 8:06:00 AM
March 2014 officer-involved shooting
DPS: Man sought 'suicide by cop'
Jeremy Wolf
Jeremy Wolf
Emergency responders prepare to take Jeremy Wolf to the hospital March 9.
Scott Orr/The Daily Courier, file
Emergency responders prepare to take Jeremy Wolf to the hospital March 9.
Scott Orr/The Daily Courier, file

Scott Orr
Special to the Tribune

PRESCOTT VALLEY - A Department of Public Safety report released this week includes an interview with a suspect shot by a Prescott Valley police officer in March that says the suspect told authorities he wanted to commit "suicide by officer."

The 215-page report does not conclude whether Officer John Van Gundy was justified in shooting suspect Jeremy Wolf, leaving that determination up to the Yavapai County Attorney's Office.

On March 9, a caller to 911 reported a domestic violence incident at a house in the 9400 block of Magma Drive. While the caller was on the telephone with dispatchers, she told them she could hear shots being fired inside the house, the report said.

As police began to arrive and set up a perimeter, Wolf ran out the back door with a shotgun in his hands. Van Gundy ordered him to drop it, the report said, but Wolf instead stopped and looked around, the report said. As he did, he moved the shotgun, and when it was pointed at Van Gundy, the officer fired two rounds from his rifle.

Van Gundy hit Wolf twice, once in the left arm and once in the right thigh. The wounds were not fatal. Wolf was flown to John C. Lincoln-North Mountain hospital in Phoenix and recovered from his injuries.

Wolf's version of events

Wolf told DPS investigators that he "was afraid of law enforcement, he did not want to go back to prison, and that he was trying to commit suicide by the police."

He said he had a fight with his wife and told his father that "he could not take it anymore" and he was going to get one of his father's weapons from the attic, the report said.

Wolf fought with his father, who tried to stop him, and injured his neck, the report said.

Wolf said he got a shotgun, then fired at the ceiling in his garage and in a bathroom before going outside and shooting at the house, the report said.

Wolf first claimed that he knew police had arrived, but that Van Gundy shot him before he could put his weapon down, the report said.

He gave several conflicting versions of the seconds leading up to the shooting, the report said, but finally admitted, "I guess I was trying to commit suicide by officer."

Wolf told investigators that he had a prior felony conviction and was prohibited from possessing a weapon, the report said. He also had in his possession prescription drugs that were not his.

Van Gundy's version of events

Van Gundy was training another officer the day of the incident, the report said. When he saw Wolf running, Van Gundy said he yelled, "Drop the gun," but wasn't certain that he identified himself as a police officer, the report said, though he repeated the order.

He said Wolf stopped and began "scanning the area" for where Van Gundy's voice had come, swinging the shotgun as he did, and pointing it at Van Gundy. When Wolf took a step, Van Gundy said he thought Wolf was about to run toward him or go back into the house to harm someone else. That was when Van Gundy fired twice, the report said, and Wolf fell to the ground.

Van Gundy said Wolf said, "I don't want to die, please don't let me die" and, when asked why he pointed the gun at police, he said, "I didn't mean to. I don't want to hurt anybody."

Wolf was charged with one count of aggravated assault on a peace officer, domestic violence, domestic violence-vulnerable adult abuse, two counts of domestic violence-disorderly conduct, two counts of disorderly conduct, possession of a dangerous drug, possession of a narcotic drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, misconduct involving weapons, theft, and domestic violence-criminal damage.

Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane said the County Attorney's Office has reviewed the report.

"We firmly believe it was a justifiable shooting," he said.

Related Stories:
• No charges yet in police-involved shooting

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