Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Sedona Airport (KSEZ), Yavapai County, Arizona

Officer, suspect injured in confrontation

Michael Paul Bergsma, 37, was reportedly shot during the arrest.

Thomas Dylan Trantham

Cynthia A. Griffin

December 20, 2020

A Sedona police officer was injured and a suspect was shot following a reported auto theft, in what is now the department’s second officer-involved shooting of the year. Both the officer and suspect were transported to Verde Valley Medical Center on Cottonwood as a result of their injuries.

The suspect who was shot was identified as Michael Paul Bergsma, of Cooks Michigan, and formerly of Walker and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

According to Sedona Police Chief Charles Husted, on December 20, at 10:31 a.m., a call from staff members of the Sedona Airport terminal reported that three adults — two men and one woman — reportedly went through the airport terminal and onto the tarmac portion and allegedly stole one of the airport-owned trucks and then drove it on the tarmac.

Airport staff called police and three officers arrived less than 10 minutes later.

When they arrived the three suspects had reportedly abandoned the vehicle on the tarmac-side of the terminal.

Husted said the three reportedly came back through the terminal and police confronted them in the parking lot.

The suspects were allegedly uncooperative and did not comply with the officers’ commands and reportedly refused to identify themselves. One of the suspects, the 37-year-old Bergsma, fled on foot back into the terminal. One of the officers gave chase on foot while the other two stayed with the remaining suspects.

The other two suspects were identified as 40-year-old Cynthia A. Griffin, of Havre de Grace, Maryland, and 43-year-old Thomas Dylan Trantham, of Tarzana, California, formerly of Texas.

During the foot chase onto the tarmac the officer deployed a less-lethal beanbag shotgun but the shot was not effective. Bergsma allegedly continued to flee. Husted said the officer continued to pursue Bergsma.

Bergsma then turned and came back toward the front of the terminal in a courtyard. The officer managed to apprehend Bergsma and a physical alternation ensued.

“It’s important to note that this portion of the story is all eye-witness account by airport employees who witnessed this whole thing unfold,” Husted told the Sedona Red Rock News on scene at around 2:30 p.m. “The officer involved has not been interviewed yet. This is not based on his story but rather the eyewitnesses.”

Husted said the officer struggled to detain Bergsma and take him into custody.

“The suspect then went after the officer’s firearm and tried to take it away from him,” Husted said. “The officer managed to discharge the firearm in defense of himself. I don’t have an exact round count but it’s my understanding it was very low.

“The suspect was struck with the shot fired but it didn’t cause him to comply and he continued to fight with the officer. At that time a second officer heard the shot and ran over to the location to provide assistance. The second assisting officer then deployed his conducted energy device [Taser] and then the two officers were able to overpower the suspect and take him into custody.”

Sedona Fire District arrived on the scene and transported both the officer and Bergsma. Husted said on scene that he didn’t have specifics on the injuries but that he believes Bergsma was shot in the torso.

SPD officers, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office deputies, U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement personnel and Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers later arrived at the scene.

Bergsma is a Tier 2 registered sex offender in Michigan. He was convicted on two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the second degree in December 2005 and is currently listed as “non-compliant” on the state of Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety deployed its officer-involved shooting team which will independently investigate the cause and circumstances of the incident. Additionally, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office is supporting the scene, sending their Crisis Response Team and assisting with any Sedona calls for service as needed.

“I really want to thank the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, their staff, Sheriff [Scott] Mascher for their immediate response and outpouring of support to help manage this scene and the fallout from all that’s involved in an officer-involved shooting. I would also like the Department of Public Safety for stepping up to conduct an impartial investigation into the officer-involved shooting. Most of them come up from Phoenix, so they are starting to arrive now.”

The two other suspects are in custody and charges for the three were pending. Their names, along with names of the officers involved, had not been released at the scene.

Regarding his officer, Husted said, “He’s pretty banged up but I’m just very thankful he was able to fight through this attack and defend himself and survive the incident and take the individual into custody.”