An early Tuesday morning shootout between Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers and a Phoenix murder suspect closed Interstate 10. It’s the third time that state troopers were caught in a gunfight in the Quartzite, Arizona, area this year.
DPS troopers were hunting for a man whom a truck driver told them shot at him on westbound I-10 near California. DPS found 36-year-old Sladjan Petkovic at a rest stop. Authorities said the man fired on the trooper who returned the gunfire. Petkovic was shot, though officials don’t know whether his injury was self-inflicted.
In September, DPS officers in the area killed a man who assaulted a trooper, then beat a truck driver and tried to flee. That followed a January case where a DPS officer was ambushed and saved by a Good Samaritan who killed the man.
In spite of the three incidents, DPS spokesman Bart Graves said troopers are not being systematically targeted in Quartzite.
"Fugitives are either trying to exit Arizona or exiting California and coming into the state in that area. So I think by some kind of happenstance we continue to engage them in that area," Graves said.
No troopers were hurt in Tuesday’s shooting.