Suspect in slaying critically wounded in rest-stop shootout

A man accused of killing his neighbour afterward opened fire on an officer at a highway rest stop in the Arizona desert, setting off a shootout with law enforcement that left the suspect critically wounded, authorities said.

The gunbattle came after a semitruck driver on Interstate 10 reported being shot at, leaving him with minor injuries from metal or grass fragments. A state trooper who was looking for the suspect came upon the trucker, then pulled into the rest area, where he was met with gunfire, the Department of Public Safety said.

Multiple police officers from several bureaux responded to the shooting and took part in the gunfight, including state trooper, sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents. No officers were injured.

Authorities were still trying to determine if the suspect, Sladjan Petkovic, 36, had fired at the semitruck. It’s not clear if policemen wounded him or whether he shot himself, Department of Public Safety Capt. Tony Mapp said.

The shootout left Petkovic’s SUV riddled with bullet pits, according to a photo on Facebook by the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office. A helicopter flew him to a hospital, where he has life-threatening traumata, authorities said.

A 36 -mile stretch of westbound Interstate 10, the major route between Phoenix and Los Angeles, was closed for over five hours Tuesday morning after the shooting at the rest area about 95 miles( 153 kilometers) west of Phoenix. The closure backed up traffic for miles.

The trooper at the rest stop was looking for Petkovic after Phoenix police sent out a written notice, Mapp said.

Petkovic is a suspect in the shooting death of neighbour Stephen Arvallo during an debate Monday on the sidewalk outside Arvallo’s home. The shooter then fired into Arvallo’s house, but a woman and boy inside were not injured, Phoenix police Sgt. Jonathan Howard said.

Petkovic and Arvalla, 45, were neighbours and had an ongoing dispute of some sort, Howard said.

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