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Idaho man fatally shot in backyard by officer who thought he was armed suspect

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — An Idaho police officer fatally shot a man in his backyard early Monday after mistaking him for someone who was being sought by authorities.

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Authorities did not identify the victim or the officer who shot him, KIFI reported. The officer wore a body camera that was in operation during the shooting, The New York Times reported.

The Idaho Falls Police Department said that the man who was being pursued was found hiding in a shed and was arrested. The Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office identified him as Tanner J. N. Shoesmith, 22, KIFI reported. He was booked at the Bonneville County Jail on outstanding warrants for failing to show up to court on charges of felony battery upon a police officer, resisting arrest, and providing false information to police, East Idaho News reported.

According to a statement from the Idaho Falls Police Department, a sheriff’s deputy pulled over a vehicle in Idaho Falls shortly after midnight because of a broken taillight. While the driver remained in her vehicle, the passenger fled, authorities said.

Police officers and deputies were called to the scene and began searching for the man, later identified as Shoesmith, who was described as wearing a black shirt and khaki pants, the Idaho Falls police said in its statement.

A resident told an officer they had seen the suspect run through their yard, and the resident believed the suspect was armed with a gun, NBC News reported. All officers were given this information, police said in their statement.

At one point, the driver of the vehicle received a text message from Shoesmith that shared his GPS location that put him in the backyard of a residence, East Idaho News reported.

“Officers and deputies surrounded the residence and backyard in order to prevent the suspect from fleeing,” according to the statement from the Idaho Falls Police Department. “Due to the information that the suspect may be armed, and a prior history of violence when interacting with police officers, law enforcement personnel entered the location with their service weapons drawn.”

The officers then heard yelling and approached the backyard, where they found a man wearing a black shirt and holding a gun, East Idaho News reported. The department said that the officers told him to drop the gun. At some point in the confrontation, one of the officers shot the man.

“We do not currently have the answers as to what exactly occurred during these moments,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson said at a news conference.

Officers and emergency medical personnel from the fire department tried to save the man but were unsuccessful, Johnson said.

The officer was placed on administrative leave, KIFI reported.

“There are no words to express how heavy our hearts are today,” Johnson said in a statement. “This situation is devastatingly tragic for the family, for the officer, and those that love and care about them. We all feel the weight of what has occurred today. Our sincere sympathies are with the family and friends of those involved, most especially the family of the deceased.”