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PRESS RELEASES

Highway Patrol Officer Shot During Traffic Stop South Of Payson On Sept 21

Highway Patrol Officer Heroically Drives Self to Hospital After Being Shot Several Times

Monday, September 23, 2013 -

On Saturday, September 21, 2013, DPS Highway Patrol Officer Seth Meeske made a traffic stop on a white passenger car driven by Cody Archuleta just after 10 p.m. on State Route 87 south of Payson.

When Officer Meeske approached the right side of the car, Archuleta shot him three times through the passenger window. One shot went through Officer Meeske’s forearm, another shot hit Officer Meeske in the left leg and the third shot hit the back of Officer Meeske’s vest.

After shooting the officer, Archuleta left him bleeding on the side of the road and fled north on State Route 87. Officer Meeske was able to return to his patrol car and radio for help. Officer Meeske then drove himself to the Payson hospital and walked into the Emergency Room.

DPS Highway Patrol Officer Robert Derango, on his very first day as a solo patrol officer, heard the initial call for help from Officer Meeske and saw Archuleta speed through a red light in downtown Payson. Officer Derango immediately began to pursue Archuleta reaching speeds of up to 100 miles-per-hour.

Officers from the Payson Police Department and a deputy from the Gila County Sheriff’s Office joined the pursuit. After 40 miles, Archuleta drove off the road and into a ditch near milepost 289. Archuleta shot at officers after getting out of his car and officers with the Payson Police Department and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office returned fire.

Archuleta was found with what was believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Officers gave Archuleta first aid and a Department of Public Safety Air Rescue helicopter landed to help. A DPS Officer/Medic pronounced Archuleta deceased at the scene.

Officer Meeske was airlifted to Banner Good Samaritan Hospital where he underwent surgery over night. Officer Meeske is doing well and in good spirits. His family has expressed their sincere thanks to the public for their concerns during this trying time. The family has requested that they have time to recover as a family and should they want to speak, DPS will notify the media.

"Words fail me in describing the incredible bravery and presence of mind exhibited by Officer Seth Meeske during this incident,” said Robert Halliday, Director of DPS. “He is alive today because of his quick thinking after being shot numerous times. The men and women of DPS have a very difficult job and perform it with courage every day. As we have seen too many times, it is dangerous work. My thanks to the Gila County Sheriff's Department and the Payson Police Department for their assistance in this investigation. I would like to commend the excellent response by DPS Officer Robert Derango who had just completed his law enforcement training. All of us at DPS pray for a speedy recovery for Officer Meeske. Our thoughts are with his family at this time."

Payson Police Chief Donald Engler said, “This case is a great example of numerous law enforcement agencies working together to resolve a complex, highly dangerous incident while doing their best to protect the public. All law enforcement agencies in Rim Country work together on a daily basis, which enhances their ability to operate as a single law enforcement unit when critical incidents occur. The Payson Police Department is very thankful Officer Meeske is recuperating so well from his injuries.”

Gila County Sheriff Adam Shephard is quoted as saying, “The inter agency cooperation between the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Payson Police Department and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office was very evident in the events that unfolded on Saturday evening. Officers from each agency responded, without hesitation to assist in locating a violent offender who attempted to take the life of Officer Meeske. I would like to thank all of the officers involved and my Deputies who were called out to assist in this event. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Meeske for a rapid recovery and return to duty”.

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