Man accused in Chandler officer’s death indicted on 28 felony counts

A father and son salute fallen Chandler Police Officer Christopher Farrar. –Photo by Peter Coronel for

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A Maricopa County Grand Jury on May 12 indicted the man accused of fatally injuring a Chandler police officer and critically injuring a Gilbert police officer after leading several law-enforcement agencies on a high-speed chase April 29 from Eloy to Gilbert that involved gunfire.

Jonathon J. Altland Jr.

Jonathon J. Altland Jr., 25, of Tolleson, was indicted on 28 felony counts, including first-degree murder, and four misdemeanors in connection with the incident that began on Interstate 10 near Eloy and ended near San Tan Ford in Gilbert with the death of Chandler Officer Christopher Farrar and critical head injuries to Gilbert Officer Rico Aranda.

The Grand Jury indicted Altland on:

  • One count of first degree murder, a Class 1 felony.
  • 20 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, each count a Class 2 felony.
  • Two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, each count a Class 3 felony.
  • Two counts of theft of means of transportation, each count a Class 3 felony.
  • One count of burglary in the first degree, a Class 3 felony.
  • One count of unlawful flight from law enforcement, a Class 5 felony.
  • One count of endangerment, a Class 6 felony.
  • Four counts of disorderly conduct-fighting, each count a first-degree misdemeanor.

A Pinal County Sheriff’s Office deputy patrolling westbound Interstate 10 near Eloy attempted to stop a stolen pickup truck driven by Altland for speeding shortly after 10 p.m. on April 29.

Altland sped away from the deputy at nearly 120 mph, exiting I-10 at northbound State Route 87, according to Gilbert police, who are heading the investigation.

Chandler Police Officer Christopher Farrar

The pursuit continued as Altland drove erratically, swerving into both lanes on SR 87. The deputy’s passenger-side windshield was shattered by gunfire from Altland, police said.

Multiple agencies, including Coolidge, Gila River, Gilbert and Chandler police as well as Department of Public Safety and a  helicopter became involved in the chase.

Altland is then accused of driving through a gate at Chandler Municipal Airport, causing air traffic to be halted briefly, and then driving away from the airport and onto Loop 202/Santan Freeway going the wrong way.

Police say that Altland crashed the pickup into a fence on the northern embankment of the 202 near Val Vista Drive and ran to the nearby San Tan Ford dealership, where he confronted and threatened janitorial staff as officers surrounded the building.

Altland stole a vehicle from inside the dealership and attempted to drive off the lot, accelerating and veering directly at several officers.

Gilbert Police Officer Rico Aranda

Officers fired their weapons at Altland, according to Gilbert police, in an attempt to stop him, however, Altland continued through the parking lot, where the vehicle he was driving hit Officer Farrar, 50, an 18-year veteran of CPD, who later died of his injuries, and Officer Aranda, 27, a three-year veteran of GPD, who suffered critical head injuries; as well as a San Tan Ford janitorial employee and a DPS officer, whose injuries were not life threatening. Officers then overpowered Altland and took him into custody.

Aranda has since improved and was released from Chandler Regional Medical Center into a private rehabilitation facility.

Lee Shappell
Lee Shappell became a journalist because he didn’t become a rocket scientist! He exhausted the math courses available by his junior year in high school and earned early admission to Rice University, intending to take advantage of its relationship with the Johnson Space Center and become an aerospace engineer. But as a high school senior, needing a class to be eligible for sports with no more math available, he took student newspaper as a credit and was hooked. He studied journalism at the UofA and has been senior reporter, copy desk chief and managing editor at several Valley publications.



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