A dramatic brawl in the parking lot outside of a Cottonwood, Arizona, Wal-Mart left one man dead and two people wounded, including one of the responding police officers. The conflict involved several members of the Gaver family, a group of small-time Christian street performers known as Matthew 24 now.
According to a press release put out by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the incident occurred slightly before 11:00 pm on Saturday evening, March 21, 2015. The initial emergency call reported that a female employee at the Cottonwood Wal-Mart had been assaulted by several suspects. The complaint alleged that the employee was entering the store’s restroom when she was shoved by one of the suspects.
The Cottonwood Police Department released a nine-minute grapic dashcam video that shows officers approaching a large SUV with Idaho license plates, according to KTLA5. Eight of the Gaver family members had apparently been living out of the vehicle for the past few days, and when they entered the store to use the restrooms, the altercation occurred.
The video shows the police officers accompanied by a Wal-Mart employee. The officer informs the family that they “need to separate these folks and talk to them” for routine questioning.
An unidentified voice responds, saying, “No, you’re not going to separate me from my parents” and “don’t touch me.” A fight immediately broke out, with an officer being put into a headlock and knocked to the ground.
Chaos ensued as a melee involving the Gaver family and several Cottonwood police officers unfolded over the next few minutes. Tasers and pepper spray were used, and at least three shots were fired during a struggle for one of the officer’s weapon.
One eyewitness, Louie Solano, described the scene, saying, “I was here last night. It was a lot of noise. It looked like a riot in the middle of the parking lot. I mean it was unbelievable. Lots of screams. Just screeching noise, like unreal, unreal. I heard about eight to ten shots.”
Several times, the Gaver group appears to be on the verge of surrendering, but would instead resume fighting. They were finally subdued and arrested after more police backup arrived.
In the end, one suspect, Enoch Gaver, age 21, was dead, and David Gaver, 28, was shot in the stomach. Sergeant Jeremy Daniels, 31, a 10-year veteran of suffered a gunshot wound to his leg. He is expected to make a full recovery.
During the arrest of the eight suspects, seven other officers received minor injuries, ranging from bruising and lacerations to a twisted ankle. While assisting the police, one Wal-Mart employee suffered a broken arm.
The eight suspects are still in custody and are being held on charges of resisting arrest, obstruction, aggravated assault, and attempted homicide.