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Arizona Man Holding Air Rifle Killed in Drug Raid

Tempe, Arizona, police in the Special Investigations/Narcotics Unit serving a drug search warrant Wednesday afternoon shot and killed a man in his backyard as he held an air rifle. John Wheelihan, 43, becomes the 22nd person to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year, and the sixth in the last month.

The victim appears to be a local photographer whose listed business address matches the address the police raided.

According to reports from local TV stations CBS 5 and ABC 15, citing police sources, police were executing a drug search warrant at Wheelihan's home on East Cairo Street when Wheelihan walked out the back door carrying a Whisper .22 caliber air rifle and began to approach detectives working the perimeter.

Tempe Police Sgt. Mike Pooley said Wheelihan raised his air rifle as he approached detectives, ignoring repeated demands to drop the weapon, so they shot him. He was taken to a local hospital, where he died of his wounds. No police were injured in the incident.

Police did not say whether they were serving a "no-knock" warrant, whether they were uniformed or undercover, or whether any drugs were discovered.

In the comments section of the ABC 15 story on the killing, posters who identified themselves as friends of Wheelihan were highly skeptical of the official story.

"I knew this man personally and so did many of my other friends/associates," wrote a poster identifying herself as Sandi Rollo. "This story is BS!!! If you didn't know him, keep your suspicions to yourself. Tempe Police fucked this one up. There is absolutely no way this man was suicidal and no way he did what they say he did. Dirty cops, dirty media."

Rollo pleaded for anyone who saw anything to step up. "If there are any eyewitnesses to this, please come forward," she wrote. "There is no way John would do this."

Tempe, AZ
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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State sponcered murder.

Cops really need to be disarmed, they're more dangerous than the criminals. Everyday there's a story about some juiced up cop killing an unarmed civilian. NO MORE ARMED COPS.

We just can't get a good

We just can't get a good sheriff in this state, can we? I was wondering when this would make it onto Reddit. We've got Ole Sheriff Joe making a fool of himself in Maricopa county, Baboon in Pinal jumping to conclusions and politicizing this by blaming it on Napolitano, and after the shooting last year, Pima Sheriff Dupnik immediately blamed it on the Republicans and their vicious, hateful rhetoric.

I just wish we could elect someone into a law enforcement position who would simply work on enforcing the law, not turning everything into pointing fingers at each other.

This is really sad. Tough

This is really sad. Tough thing is that air guns look just like real guns, and cops can't really tell what's the intention of gun holder.

Really sad thing. Cops should

Really sad thing. Cops should really know better

I think it's unfair to blame

I think it's unfair to blame the roots of our culture. American culture was never based on an inherent sense of bullying. When I say this, I mean in a relative sense to other Western nations. The United States was born right smack in the middle of the era of imperialism. We may have treated natives like shit, taken their land, dishonored our promises, but that wasn't something Europeans hadn't been doing for centuries before the birth of the nation.

investigation

Didn't the police bother to do any kind of an investigation before they grabbed their guns to run out and murder some one . It sure doesn't sound like they did any kind of investigation what so ever .  tania

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