New details released on deputy-involved shooting that prompted Bearizona lockdown

- New details have been released on an incident that began as a traffic stop along I-40 near Ash Fork, and ended with a police chase and a shooting that prompted a lockdown at Bearizona, located in Williams.


The chase and the suspects

The suspects, identified as 31-year-old John Freeman and 30-year-old Gideon Eads, were eventually taken into custody. Freeman had a warrant out for his arrest. He is accused of stealing a car in Kingman.

According to a Facebook profile that purportedly belongs to Freeman, he and Eads are married. 

According to officials, Freeman was the one driving during the chase. The speed reportedly exceeded 100 miles per hour at times, and Freeman allegedly fired a shot at a motor home.

When the car began to smoke, Freeman and Eads reportedly jumped out of the car. Eads, according to officials, was quickly taken into custody, but Freeman reportedly shot at a deputy, and then ran into a nearby forest.

Freeman was found several hours later, hiding in a ditch. He is facing more than 10 charges for the incident, including alleged Aggravated Assault on a Peace Officer, and alleged Drive-By Shooting.

According to officials, a third person inside the car had reportedly hitched a ride, and jumped out of the moving car, just after the traffic stop. The person was seriously hurt, but is not facing charges.

A search of the car reportedly revealed drug paraphernalia in the trunk.

According to authorities, Freeman later told police he was in fear of his life, during the chase.


Lockdown

The chase, and the ensuing search for Freeman, caused Bearizona in Williams, as well as several schools in the area, to be put on lockdown.

The animal wildlife park announced the lockdown on their Facebook page, saying they are on lockdown and that all staff and visitors at the park are safe and no one is allowed to enter at this time.

"Police came onto property and alerted us there were two fugitives in the area," recounted Jocelyn Monteverde with Bearizona. "They had gotten in a car accident, and they had presumed to have come to Bearizona."

The lockdown at Bearizona lasted for about five hours. Staff members at the law enforcement began lockdown procedures at the park. Monteverde said they got people to the gift shop area. 200 guests were escorted to that area.

"There were 60 police officers, roughly that were here from all different agencies in Arizona," said Monteverde. "They communicated well. They were assertive. They knew what to do, so it really helped us and all of our visitors feel safe."

Eventually, the guests were escorted out of the park by police, three cars at a time. Guests affected by the lockdown were reportedly given a free pass to return to the park.



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