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Blue Ridge Area, AZ; The Forest Service Officer involved shooting that occurred on Friday, September 19, 2014 in the Blue ridge area which resulted in the death of the individual who attacked the officer is ongoing. The deceased man has been identified as sixty-six year old Courtney James VanRiper also spelled Van Ripper with a last known address in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It is also believed that at some point Mr. VanRiper resided in an unknown city or town in Wyoming. Coconino County Sheriff’s detectives have not been able to identify or contact any of his next of kin. Mr. VanRiper’s name is being released at this point in the investigation with the hope that someone who knows him can assist investigators in identifying and contacting his family members.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the external portion of this investigation. The Forest Service Officer who conducted the contact with Mr. VanRiper has been identified as thirty-four year old Douglas A. Pederson. Officer Pederson has been employed with the Forest for 15 years in several capacities. Douglas Pederson has been a United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer for 2 years.
On Friday, September 19, 2014 at 1:46 pm Officer Pederson contacted a Sheriff’s Office dispatcher by radio to advise he was contacting an individual who was camping in the area of the junction of Highway 260 and State Route 87 off of Forest Service road 616. It should be noted that the Sheriff’s Office provides dispatch and radio communication services to Forest Service Officers who work within Coconino County. During subsequent transmissions Officer Pederson advised dispatch that shots had been fired, requested emergency medical services immediately and gave his location.
Emergency medical personnel of the Pine/Strawberry Fire Department treated Mr. VanRiper at the scene and transported him to the Payson Regional Medical Center. Mr. VanRiper was pronounced deceased on Friday, September 19, 2014. Officers with the United States Forest Service, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations also responded to the location of the shooting.
At this point in the investigation detectives have learned that Officer Pederson observed a vehicle parked in an unimproved area of the forest at a temporary campsite. According to the officer he approached the camp and made contact with Mr. VanRiper. According to Officer Pederson Mr. VanRiper had the DVD player in the vehicle on so loud that communication was difficult. The officer asked him to turn the DVD player down.
While in the vehicle Mr. VanRiper spent a considerable amount of time sorting through items and the officer told him several times to come out of the vehicle. Once Mr. VanRiper exited his vehicle he had a large can of bear repellant/pepper spray which he used to spray at the officer striking him in his face.
Officer Pederson who was partially incapacitated and with impaired vision fired multiple rounds at the suspect striking VanRiper twice. Officer Pederson administered first aid to Mr. VanRiper until he was relieved by emergency medical personnel. Detectives learned that Mr. VanRiper was the subject of an outstanding felony warrant for probation violation issued out of the Yavapai County Superior Court. The vehicle Mr. VanRiper was in possession of was reported as stolen out of Flagstaff, Arizona. Mr. VanRiper was also in possession of a stolen handgun.
Sheriff’s Detectives are continuing this investigation.
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Media and Public Contact: Gerry Blair, Coconino County Sheriff's Office, 928-226-5089