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Man fatally shot while target shooting near Paulden

PAULDEN — A Chino Valley man was fatally shot the afternoon of July 2 after he and a friend were target shooting about four miles north of Paulden.

According to a news release dated July 2 from Dwight D’Evelyn, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) Public Affairs coordinator, deputies received a call around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30, and arrived at the location on a service road off Highway 89 north of Paulden. They found Jose Cruz, 25, administering first aid to Angel Perez, 25. Both men are Chino Valley residents.

Perez died at the scene.

In preliminary statements by Cruz, he explained that he and Perez had finished target shooting with AR-15 rifles. Cruz placed his rifle on a table they were using to hold weapons during the shoot. Cruz had taken the empty magazine out of his rifle.

When they finished shooting with other firearms, Cruz took his AR-15 rifle, which he believed was unloaded, and laid it on the tailgate of the truck. Intending to place the rifle in its case, he grabbed the rifle by the empty magazine well. At this time, Perez was walking toward the tailgate when the rifle went off, and a round struck Perez in his mid-section.

Detectives interviewed Cruz extensively and have not made an arrest.

“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,” D’Evelyn stated.

When the investigation is complete, YCSO will submit the case to the County Attorney for a charging decision, if any are sought.

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