Arizona police officer killed, suspect dead

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- A northern Arizona police officer killed over the weekend was shot repeatedly at close range by a domestic violence suspect after calmly asking the man if he could pat him down for any weapons, authorities said Sunday.

Flagstaff Officer Tyler J. Stewart, 24, died Saturday at Flagstaff Medical Center shortly after being shot multiple times.

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Arizona police officer killed, suspect dead
Flag's Bravo company bow their heads after lighting candles for those who came. Described #TylerStewart as a brother. http://t.co/0982jCihNA
So many ppl came out tonight to support those who were close to Tyler Stewart. It was powerful to be here. http://t.co/wyTEVhK4uG
This Nov. 27, 2008 photo released by the Flagstaff Police Department, shows police officer Tyler Stewart. Officer Stewart, 24, died Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014, at Flagstaff Medical Center after he was shot by a suspect in a domestic-violence case, police said. Stewart was looking for the suspect about 1:30 p.m. in the 800 block of West Clay Street when a man identified as Robert W. Smith, 28, of Prescott, fired several shots at the officer, police said. The suspect then shot himself dead, police added. Stewart had worked at the department for less than a year, police said. (AP Photo/Flagstaff Police Department)
Vigil in Anthem for slain Flagstaff officer Tyler Stewart. http://t.co/PsLtBObQY6
The community gathers in Anthem to mourn fallen Flagstaff Officer Tyler Stewart. #abc15 http://t.co/i078iD23jW
"We care about you" written in chalk by Caspian, 5, for the @FlagstaffPolice. So tragic. #TylerStewart http://t.co/RU2o76kuo3
Flowers are tied to a stop sign near where officer Tyler Stewart was shot in Flagstaff yesterday. http://t.co/b8WDLP70XP
Memorial for fallen officer Tyler Stewart continues to grow at the Flagstaff Police Dept. I'm live at 10 on @12News http://t.co/1h8V3LQ7xn
Our hearts remain heavy after laying 2 ofcrs to rest yesterday, we lost yet another. #RIP Flagstaff PO Tyler Stewart http://t.co/jE6SVIHI7O
Please say a prayer for the family of Flagstaff Police Office, Tyler Stewart. Officer Stewart was killed while on duty yesterday. #LODD #RIP
Our condolences to the men and women of the Flagstaff, Arizona Police Department on the death of Officer Tyler Stewart #EOW:12/27/2014
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Stewart had responded to a domestic violence call from the suspect's girlfriend at about 11 a.m. Saturday, police Sgt. Margaret Bentzen said. The woman told the officer she had an argument with Robert W. Smith, 28, and that he had left the area.

Stewart later found Smith at an apartment complex where he questioned the man but "at no time did the conversation become confrontational," Bentzen said in a statement.

When Stewart asked the suspect if he could check him for weapons, Smith pulled a gun from his pocket and opened fire on the officer from about 2 feet away, according to the statement.

Stewart did not have time to return fire, and Smith continued to shoot the officer repeatedly even after he had sustained serious wounds and was on the ground, Bentzen said

Smith then walked away and fatally shot himself, she said. He died at the scene.

The investigation remained ongoing. Authorities said Smith was arrested in 2009 by Flagstaff police for a domestic violence incident.

Stewart is the second Flagstaff police officer to be killed in the line of duty. On June 21, 2000, Officer Jeff Moritz, 30, was killed after he pulled over a teenager who was driving around his neighborhood in a truck playing loud music.

Stewart had worked at the department for less than a year. He was a graduate of Boulder Creek High School in Anthem, Arizona, near Phoenix, and later attended Concordia College in California, police said.

"This is an enormous tragedy for our department and the family of our officer. We are a very close knit organization, and know that all members of the Flagstaff Police Department are grieving at this time. With that being said, all of the men and women of the Flagstaff Police Department extend our prayers and condolences to the family of our Officer Tyler Stewart," Chief Kevin Treadway said in a statement.

"It is heartbreaking to lose one of our officers," Mayor Jerry Nabours said. "We collectively mourn for his family and the entire department."

Hundreds gathered at a candlelight vigil on Sunday evening outside the Flagstaff Police Department at the agency's Officer Down Memorial Statue, KPHO reported (http://tinyurl.com/no5x6cw ).

A makeshift memorial of flowers, candles and balloons was growing larger as members of the community added to it. Children used chalk to draw pictures and to write messages of thanks for the officers.

The shooting was the second one of a police officer in northern Arizona in the past three months. In October, a tribal police officer of the Navajo Nation was shot in the face during a shootout with a suspect in the town of Kaibeto, about 75 miles north of Flagstaff. The officer survived.

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