PHOENIX (AP) - Law enforcement officers in Utah and Nevada separately stopped and released an Arizona homicide suspect before he was declared a wanted man.
Caleb Bartels, 27, was stopped on Sunday night in northern Arizona and again by Utah officials. On Monday, he was stopped by Nevada law enforcement.
All three incidents took place before a nationwide warrant was issued for his arrest, authorities say.
The warrant says Bartels is wanted for the killing early Sunday morning of Ryne Zahner, a teacher a Mesa High School who was shot in his home’s backyard.
Police believe Bartels and Zahner were friends and former roommates who had a falling out.
Before that warrant was issued, the Arizona Department of Public Safety stopped Bartels around 5:30 p.m. in northern Arizona, just 13 hours after the shooting.
The Utah Highway Patrol stopped him again around 10 p.m., where a trooper found an AR-15, a pistol and fully-loaded magazine in the vehicle. There was no warrant issued for Bartels’ arrest and the trooper had no indication he was prohibited from possessing a firearm. He was let go.
The next day, about an hour before a warrant was sent to law enforcement nationwide, the Nevada Highway Patrol stopped Bartels in West Wendover, Nevada, for a headlight violation. Records indicate no action was taken and Bartels was allowed to proceed.
Law enforcement officials are still searching for Bartels, who they believe may have fled to Sacramento, California; Reno, Nevada, or Beaverton, Oregon. He is considered armed and dangerous.
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