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Traffic stop on I-10 in Wilcox ends in deadly shooting, suspect identified

Westbound Interstate 10 was shut down near Willcox Thursday due to a law enforcement incident.
Posted at 6:52 PM, Jun 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-19 01:42:26-04

WILCOX, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Cochise County Sheriff's Department has released new details following an officer-involved shooting that happened in Willcox last week.

On Thursday, June 10, just after 3:10 am, a trooper with the Arizona Department of Public Safety observed a silver Chevrolet SUV travelling at speeds up to 111 miles per hour on Interstate 10 near mile post 378 and initiated a traffic stop.

During the traffic stop, the driver fled, and a the trooper pursued with lights and siren.

RELATED: Westbound Interstate 10 was shut down near Willcox Thursday due to a law enforcement incident.

The suspect continued driving the vehicle towards Willcox at speeds reaching over 100 miles per hour.

The Willcox Police Department deployed tire deflation devices near mile post 344 in an attempt to slow the speed of the fleeing vehicle.

The suspect ran over the deflation devices, but continued to flee with punctured tires, and fired a handgun at law enforcement multiple times, striking a law enforcement vehicle and shooting the trooper who originally pulled the suspect over. The suspect then fled on foot.

The suspect was discovered inside a vehicle at a nearby residence. CCSO says the suspect had been in the house and asked the family for a ride into town.

When approached, the suspect exited the vehicle armed with a handgun and refused commands to surrender.

The suspect sought access to the front door of the occupied residence with a Glock 31 semi-automatic handgun with a "drum" magazine.

Upon entering the residence, two DPS troopers discharged their weapons, striking the suspect, according to the CCSO. The suspect was taken to the hospital, where he died.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office wrote in a release, "Due to the extreme violence demonstrated by the suspect and the refusal to obey commands to surrender, law enforcement officers recognized the suspect was an immediate threat to the life and safety of those inside the home; after again attempting to get the suspect to surrender, law enforcement utilized lethal force to protect both the residents and themselves. Law enforcement officers immediately initiated lifesaving measures on the suspect, after which he was transported to a local hospital. He was later pronounced deceased at the hospital."

The suspect has been identified as 21-year-old Josiah L. Byard with a last known address in Georgia.

The trooper was transported to University Medical Center in Tucson, where he underwent surgery for his gunshot wound and is expected to fully recover.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels said, “I am glad the officer shot will fully recover, and the other law enforcement officers/deputies involved in this incident are safe after this critical situation."