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Chino Valley man dies after apparent accident while target shooting
No arrests made as investigation continues

A Chino Valley man was fatally shot Sunday afternoon 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 got the call about 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 towards the tailgate when the rifle went off, and one 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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