Phoenix Cop Shoots, Kills Army Soldier

An allegedly suicidal 18-year-old Army soldier was shot and killed by a police officer Tuesday afternoon.

Police say William R. Osterlind had developed a relationship with a 14-year-old girl, and was approaching her house when a Phoenix police officer fired one shot from an AR-15 rifle that hit Osterlind in the side. As he fell to the ground, police say Osterlind fired his handgun, which went through the front door and hit the 14-year-old girl's younger sister, a 12-year-old girl, in the leg.

Osterlind died from his injury, although the 12-year-old girl's injury was not life-threatening, according to Phoenix Police Sergeant Trent Crump.

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Police had responded to a call from the 14-year-old girl around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, reporting that Osterlind told her he had been drinking and was threatening suicide. She informed police of a sexual relationship between the two that started earlier this year, and added that she saw Osterlind on her way home from school that day. She believed presents at the front doorstep of her home, located near Deer Valley Road and Tatum Boulevard, were left there by Osterlind.

While police were getting this information, several people in the neighborhood called police to report a man in Army fatigues carrying a handgun around the neighborhood, Crump says.

Police found Osterlind in a wash not far from the 14-year-old girl's home, and commanded him to put the gun down. Crump says Osterlind instead put the gun to his own head, and although police tried to contain Osterlind's movement, he kept walking towards the girl's home.

According to police, there was a woman getting three young children into a car in the driveway of the home when Osterlind showed up, and the woman ran to safety.

Meanwhile, a Phoenix police officer armed with the AR-15, along with a police sergeant, were deployed behind a truck a few houses down. As Osterlind walked toward the front door, the officer fired one shot "as he believed the suspect presented a deadly threat to the two young girls inside the house," Crump says.

Osterlind's shot that struck the 12-year-old went off "simultaneously," Crump says.

Osterlind was hit in the side, and although police and firefighters treated Osterlind at the scene, he died after being transported to a hospital.

Crump tells New Times he's not aware of any police history involving Osterlind, and as far as previous mental-health issues are concerned, he said he had not yet seen Osterlind's medical files.

The identity of the officer who shot Osterlind has not been released. He's identified as a 6-year veteran of the department.

Osterlind had just completed basic training with the Army, and was home on leave.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley