On June 30, 2019, around 3:30 PM, deputies were dispatched to a weapons offense incident on a Forest Service Road off Highway 89 about 4 miles north of Paulden, Arizona. Deputies learned that 25-year-old Angel Perez of Chino Valley had been shot while 25-year-old Jose Cruz from Chino Valley, was handling a rifle following target practice. Cruz began first aid pending the arrival of deputies, medical personnel and air transport. Unfortunately, Perez died at the scene.
Cruz preliminary statement - Cruz explained that he and Perez had just finished target shooting with AR 15 rifles. Cruz placed his rifle on a table they were using to store weapons during the shoot. He had taken the magazine out and saw that it was empty. Once they were done shooting other firearms, Cruz took his AR 15 rifle he believed was unloaded and laid it on the tail gate of the truck they drove to the shooting location. He returned to the truck tail gate intending to place the rifle in its case and grabbed the rifle by the empty magazine well. At this time, Perez was walking towards the tail gate when the rifle went off and a round struck Perez in his mid-section.
Detectives were notified and initiated an investigation which is currently active. Cruz was interviewed extensively and not arrested. The case remains under review as additional information is being gathered from physical evidence at the scene, along with a pending forensic examination of the rifle and the autopsy. There were no initially evident signs of foul play.
When complete, the case will be submitted to the County Attorney for a charging decision if any are sought.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov