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Overlooking the Grand Canyon

Overlooking the Grand Canyon from the South Rim.

An officer-involved shooting occurred early Thursday at Grand Canyon National Park, making it the second officer-involved shooting in northern Arizona within a week.

According to a National Park Service release, a Grand Canyon ranger shot at a person on the South Rim at about 1 a.m. after being sent to the scene via dispatch.

National Park Service Spokeswoman Kari Cobb said she couldn't provide details as to why the ranger was sent or who placed the original 911 call.

"As far as we know the officer was responding to something that was called in," Cobb said.

The firearm was discharged by the ranger following a scuffle with the subject. The subject sustained minor injuries from the scuffle, not from a gunshot wound. 

Grand Canyon Public Affairs Specialist Vanessa Ceja said the the person who was shot at by the ranger was near Maswik Lodge in the western portion of Grand Canyon Village at the time of the shooting. Because of the ongoing investigation, no further details surrounding the shooting were provided, but both the news release and NPS representatives have referred to the person who was shot as a suspect.

The release stated that both the ranger and the person sustained minor injuries during the incident. The suspect was transported to Flagstaff Medical Center for treatment and is currently in custody in Flagstaff, Cobb said.

Authorities have not released the names of the suspect nor the ranger at this point; however, Ceja said the suspect is believed to be male.

Rangers that have the authority and training to respond to such incidents are known as commissioned rangers, and Cobb said NPS employs several throughout the park. A commissioned ranger acts as a law enforcement agent within park jurisdictions and is licensed to carry a firearm at all times; they also wear bulletproof vests. Non-commissioned rangers, including interpretive and fee rangers, do not carry guns.

In officer-involved shooting situations, NPS defers to its Investigative Services Branch (ISB) for the investigation.

“The FBI has also been notified,” Cobb said. 

ISB personnel are still on scene at the Grand Canyon, according to the release, but all areas of the park are open to the public.

The use of deadly force is unprecedented at the South Rim, said Cobb, adding that nothing of this sort has happened in her 15 years at the Grand Canyon.

The officer-involved shooting at the South Rim comes less than a week after 43-year-old Venson Yazzie was fatally shot by a park ranger at Canyon De Chelly -- a national monument on northern Arizona's Navajo Nation. Yazzie was a vendor who sold rock art to tourists at the monument.

In January of 2018, Forest Service Officer Krista Kuhns shot 51-year-old Tyler Miller twice in the abdomen on the side of Highway 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona. The lawyer from Kansas was proclaimed dead after being transported to FMC. 

Both incidents are still under investigation. 

Upon completion of the South Rim investigation, it will be submitted to the United States Attorney's Office District of Arizona. However, it is unknown how long the process will take. 

Involved officers are placed on administrative leave while the investigations occur.

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