Search for killer at Utah-Arizona border to continue into weekend

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FREDONIA, Ariz. -- A day and a half after their search began, law enforcement agencies are still looking for a man accused of killing a Kane County sheriff's deputy.

So far, deputies have not been able to locate 23-year-old Scott Curley, but they do believe he is still somewhere in the desert near Kanab, Utah, and Fredonia, Ariz. They say Curley has been hiding out ever since he shot and killed the deputy Thursday afternoon.

Deputies in the field have now formed a perimeter around where they think Curley is. They will try and hold him there until daylight, when they can resume their search.

The shooting

The slain deputy was identified Friday as Brian Harris from Orderville. He is a 13-year veteran of the Kane County Sheriff's Office and an Operation Desert Storm veteran. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

Deputy Brian Harris
Deputy Brian Harris

Thursday afternoon, just before 2:30, Harris was attempting to take arrest Curley as a suspect in a recent armed burglary.

Deputies say Curley ran from Harris, went into the desert and hid under a tree. He then waited for Harris to come over a ridge.

When Harris was about 40 feet away, deputies say Curley shot and killed him.

One of Curley's cousins, who also lives in Fredonia, told KSL News Friday he just can't believe what's going on.

"I'm not sure exactly what to say about that, other than he's been a great kid as far as I knew him," Virgil Homer said. "I mean, I've watched him grow from here to now and this is not like him."

Now, though, Homer is wondering where his cousin might have went wrong.

"I think he got, my guess is he got caught up in something he just couldn't get out of," Homer says. "My guess is drugs, would be my only bet, and alcohol and stuff like that. He's been walking around here in town and stuff like that, but I never realized he was capable of doing something like this."

Investigators say Curley ran into the desert near Fredonia after the shooting.

The search for Curley

Deputies say their No. 1 goal right now is to find Curley and bring him in alive.

Scott Curley
Scott Curley

"What we have done is ask our law enforcement officers, even though it is emotional, that we maintain professionalism," said Chief Deputy Jim Driscoll, with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office. "We will attempt to apprehend Mr. Curley alive; but if Mr. Curley takes that option away from us, we will do what we need to do."

More than 120 officers, deputies, SWAT team members, K9 units and helicopters have been searching for Curley since Thursday afternoon.

The original area deputies set up a perimeter for was 6 square miles. Now that zone has been increased to include all of Kanab and Fredonia.

"[Curley] is very familiar with the area, and that's what some of the problem is," said Chief Deputy Rob Tersigni, with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Friday morning, officers followed a credible lead on the suspect's whereabouts and headed back to the Kanab area to continue the search.

A woman who lives east of Kanab called police around 7:30 Friday morning to report she saw a man matching the description of the shooting suspect running through a wash near her backyard. She said he had a gun strapped to his back and described him as wearing clothing matching that worn by Curley.

Officers found tracks in the area and began following them, but after nearly three hours on the search they came up with nothing.


Officials still have a perimeter set up around the area Curley may be hiding, but at this point investigators are reassessing their strategy to find him.

"We're interviewing family, friends of his, anybody... teachers, anyone like that to get a good idea of what he's all about," said Chief Deputy Jim Driscoll with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office.

"[Curley] frequents this area often, spends a lot of time up there alone," said Kane County sheriff's Sgt. Alan Alldredge, "and so they're pretty confident he's still there; and hopefully we'll be able to find him Friday."

"We have heard he may have food and supplies stored up there somewhere, but we haven't confirmed this or found the ‘spider holes,' as some people have called them," Driscoll said.

Curley does have a criminal history, which includes trespassing, assault and disorderly conduct -- but nothing as serious as what he is accused of now.

"Most of his activity has not been of a violent nature," Alldredge said. "But it just seems to be one of those individuals that you're constantly dealing with over and over -- just small, petty stuff; anger issues maybe."

Many residents in Fredonia and Kanab have been warned to be careful and to be on the lookout.

Community mourning fallen officer

Meanwhile, those who knew Harris are mourning his death. "We're a pretty close-knit group," Alldredge said. "There are only 12 officers in our department. He's been around a long time, does a good job, is well respected and comes from a small community. This will impact them quite heavily in the community where he lives."

[Deputy Harris] is the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. He was very helpful. If I ever needed something, he would take care of it.

–Dick Brewer

"He's the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet," said Dick Brewer, the manager of the Kanab airport. "I'd see him around here all the time. He was very helpful. If I ever needed something, he would take care of it -- just a really nice guy."

"These cases are extremely difficult," Driscoll said. "It's difficult on the department, on the families, and on the community. It's a time when we all have to step back and we certainly have the greatest sympathy and concern for Deputy Harris' family right now. It's going to be tough for this community for a while to be able to get through this and to be able to move on."

A fund* has been set up at State Bank of Southern Utah in the name of the Brian Harris Family. For more information contact Rhonda Gant (Human Resource Director of Kane County) at 435-644-4929.



* has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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