Officer killed in pursuit of convicted felon who fired at Pinal deputy

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GILBERT, AZ – On the evening of April 29th, a Chandler Police officer was killed during a multi-agency pursuit of a convicted felon. The felon had reportedly opened fire on a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy earlier in the evening when the deputy had tried pulling the driver over.

The incident initially started at approximately 10:11 p.m. on April 29th, when a Pinal County Sheriff’s deputy attempted to make a traffic stop involving the suspect, later identified as 25-year-old Jonathan Altland near Eloy on SR-87.

Officials say that Altland had opened fire on the deputy and fled the traffic stop.

The suspect was said to have continued toward the Chandler area, with the suspect allegedly crashing through the Chandler Municipal Airport at approximately 10:39 p.m. that evening.

According to Gilbert Police officials, after the suspect crashed through the airport, Altland employed dangerous maneuvers while driving against traffic to avoid capture:

“Altland then attempted to evade officers by driving in opposing lanes of traffic on surface streets and on and off from the 202 Santan Freeway. The pursuit continued into Gilbert where it ended in the area of Val Vista and the 202 Santan freeway.”

The suspect was said to have crashed his truck into the outer fencing of a Ford dealership in the area, later abandoning the vehicle on foot while still allegedly in possession of a handgun.

Altland had allegedly gained access to a building inside of the Ford dealership where employees were actively working inside.

Jonathan Altland - Arizona Dept. of Corrections
Jonathan Altland – Arizona Dept. of Corrections

At this point, officers from Gilbert, Chandler, Department of Public Safety, and Pinal County deputies had surrounded the building where the suspect was allegedly inside.

At approximately 11:04 p.m., police say the suspect had managed to steal a vehicle from inside the dealership building and crashed through a closed bay door.

Officials say that numerous officers fired upon Altland as he used the stolen vehicle to crash into officers positioned outside of the building, injuring one officer and killing another:

“Officers from DPS and Pinal County Sheriff’s Office discharged their weapons as a result of the suspect attempting to run them over after crashing through the bay door.

“The suspect continued his intentional attack on the officers, striking and killing Chandler Officer Christopher Farrar. The suspect continued to drive striking a parked car that struck Gilbert Officer Rico Aranda causing serious injuries.”

Gilbert Police Officer Aranda was last reported as being “in critical condition, but stable, and he has shown signs of improvement.”

The Gilbert Police Leadership Association has established a GoFundMe account to benefit Officer Aranda during his period of recovery.

Reportedly three DPS officers also sustained non-life threatening injuries from the incident, as well as one Ford dealership employee sustaining minor injuries.  

Altland was said to have been taken into custody following the incident, where he was reportedly treated at an area hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Authorities say that Altland is facing charges of murder, aggravated assault, and auto theft as of this time.

When commenting on the incident that resulted in 50-year-old Chandler Police Officer Farrar being killed, Chandler Police Chief Sean Duggan referred to Altland as being a “violent felon”:

“Chris was struck and killed by a violent felon in a stolen vehicle following a multi-agency shooting and pursuit.”

Records obtained by Law Enforcement Today show that Altland carries previous convictions of theft of means of transportation, possession of drug paraphernalia, and attempted theft of means of transportation.

Altland had reportedly been released from prison in July of 2017 after serving 30 months for his latest conviction.

Officials described Officer Farrar as being an 18-year veteran for the Chandler Police Department.

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Back in April, Law Enforcement Today reported on the tragic passing of an NYPD highway patrol officer who authorities says was killed by a suspected DUI driver. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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NEW YORK CITY, NY– A NYPD highway patrol officer was killed after being hit by an alleged drunk driver who had a suspended license. 

On Tuesday, April 27, Highway Unit Officer, now identified as 43-year-old Anastasios Tsakos, was directing traffic at the scene of a deadly crash on the Long Island Expressway in Clearview around 2 a.m. 

NBC News reported that in that crash, the driver lost control of a vehicle and slammed into a concrete wall while trying to take an exit.

The vehicle burst into flames, with a driver and two passengers pulled from the fire and rushed to the hospital. Another passenger died at the scene, and the driver of the car was later charged.

According to NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, Officer Tsakos was redirecting traffic at the crash site when a 2013 Volkswagen Passat, driven by 32-year-old Jessica Beauvais of Hempstead, hit him and sped off.

Commissioner Shea was asked if it was possible that Beauvais was unaware that she hit the officer, to which Shea responded that “there’s no way to not know that you struck an individual” based off of the damage that was sustained to the vehicle. 

According to the charges, Tsakos was thrown in the air and landed on a nearby patch of grass. He later died of his injuries at a hospital.

It is reported that Beauvais faces a slew of charges including manslaughter, aggravated manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of a deadly accident, DWI and other offenses.

According to a law enforcement official, Beauvais allegedly had a blood-alcohol level of .15, which is nearly twice the legal limit.

NBC News reported that at the time of the crash, Beauvais’ driver license was apparently suspended for failure to pay a Driver Responsibility Assessment in relation to a speeding conviction.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Beauvais did not stop or slow down after striking the officer with her car. Instead, she traveled several more exits before getting onto the Horace Harding Expressway, where she jumped a curb and mounted a sidewalk in her car.

The charges show that police officers surrounded Beauvais, and she tried to flee by putting her car in reverse and ramming into a police vehicle twice before coming to a stop. She was taken into custody immediately after.

According to two senior law enforcement officials, Beauvais was combative during her arrest.

Beauvais also admitted to drinking vodka and smoking marijuana prior to the collision, while she was working in a studio all night recording her podcast. Fox5 news reported that video of that podcast was posted on Facebook, and showed her using multiple expletives to describe law enforcement.

As Beauvais was lead out of the 107 police precinct in handcuffs, she tearfully apologized to Officer Tsakos’ family. 

She said:

“I’m sorry.  I’m sorry that I hit him and that he is dead,”

According to reports, she was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Tuesday evening, and faces up to 15 years in prison. It is not immediately known if she had retained an attorney. Beauvais is apparently a single mother who is the primary caregiver for her child. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio commended on the death of the 14 year police veteran, saying: 

“He’s dead before he was at an accident where people had driven recklessly also with a suspended license,”

de Blasio went on to say:

“He’s dead because of other people’s negligence.”

During Tuesday’s daily coronavirus press briefing, the Mayor once again commented on the tragedy, saying:

“My heart is heavy,” 

He continued:

“We lost a very good young man — a 14-year veteran of the NYPD, someone who went out there every day and serve us.”

Tsakos is survived by his wife, Irene, and their 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, de Blasio said, adding that Tsakos was “the epitome of a family man.”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea called Tsakos’ death a:

“profound tragedy. The face that life was taken by a driver whose license had been suspended, and who was intoxicated, is nothing short of criminal and should be treated that way.”

As a caravan of police officers escorted Tsakos’ body to the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office.

Police Commissioner Shea said that funeral services for the officer are being scheduled for “early next week.”

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