Suspect ID’d in officer-involved shooting

Maricopa officers work the scene of Sunday's crash at Maricopa Casa Grande Highway and Porter Road following a police pursuit and officer-involved shooting. The road was closed. [Brian Petersheim Jr.]

The suspect in Sunday night’s officer-involved shooting at Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and North Porter Road has been identified.

Michael Zapata, 50, is charged in the incident which started with an apparent stabbing, police chase and crash, and ended with a gunfight with MPD officers, according to authorities.

EARLIER: Suspect shoots at police after chase, crash; officers return fire

Maricopa police said they were initially dispatched to a home for a report of an aggravated assault with a knife. (Multiple residents of Homestead said on social media that the altercation happened in their neighborhood.)

Upon officers’ arrival to that scene, they located a man who told officers he had been attacked by his roommate, Zapata. The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of stab and burn wounds, according to a joint press release issued Monday by Maricopa police and the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.

Zapata fled the scene in his vehicle, authorities said.

Police said Zapata’s vehicle collided with another vehicle in the intersection of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and North Porter Road, near Walmart.

The MPD-PCSO press release does not mention a police chase, but an eyewitness told InMaricopa on Sunday night that he and his son were sitting in their vehicle at the intersection waiting for a United Pacific train to clear Porter Road when he heard sirens and saw a car “coming up pretty fast” south on Porter. “I saw him coming and he just didn’t stop…,” John Potter said. “The cops were right behind him.” 

After the crash, Zapata stuck his hand out of the car window and started firing at officers, police said.

Maricopa officers returned fire. ABC15 reported Sunday night that it counted more than 27 bullet holes in the windshield, driver’s side window and body of Zapata’s car. 

The occupant of the second vehicle involved in the crash was transported to the hospital as a precaution and has since been released, the press release said.

Police said Zapata was not shot during the incident, and only received minor injuries. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of those injuries, then released and booked into Pinal County Jail.

According to online prison records, Zapata was booked on one charge of aggravated assault on a peace officer.

PCSO is investigating the MPD officer-involved shooting, the Pinal County Vehicular Crimes Unit is handling the crash scene investigation, and MPD is investigating the original aggravated assault complaint.

As the investigations continue, Zapata is expected to face additional charges.