Fatal Bear Attack in Arizona Stopped with a Rifle

Image from Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Scene of Fatal Bear Attack

U.S.A. — On June 16, near Groom Creek, in Arizona, 66-year-old Steven Jackson was sitting on his camp chair, having coffee at an outdoor table, when a 300 lb male black bear attacked him. The attack appears to have been unprovoked and predatory in nature. Groom Creek is a few miles South of Prescott, about 100 miles north of Phoenix, at about 5000 – 6000  feet above sea level. The temperature on the morning of the 16th was 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  From Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office:

At approximately 7:50 this morning, the YCSO dispatch center received multiple 911 calls about a man who was being mauled by a bear in the Groom Creek Area. When YCSO deputies and Prescott PD arrived at the scene, which was in a heavily wooded remote area, they found Steven Jackson, 66 years old of Tucson dead of an apparent bear attack, and the bear dead nearby. Deputies called officials from Arizona Game and Fish to respond to the scene as well. 
From multiple witness accounts and preliminary investigation of the scene, Mr. Jackson had been sitting having coffee at a table on his property where he was building a home. It appears that a male black bear attacked Mr. Jackson, taking him unaware, and dragged him approximately 75 feet down an embankment. 
Neighbors who heard the victim screaming tried to intervene through shouts and car horns, but the bear did not let go of Mr. Jackson until one neighbor was able to retrieve his rifle and shoot the bear to get him to disengage. Unfortunately, by that time Mr. Jackson has succumbed to his horrible injuries. 
According to Arizona Game and Fish and confirmed by YCSO this attack, which appeared to be predatory in nature, is highly uncommon and unusual, with only one other fatal attack known since the mid 1980s. At first glance there did not appear to be anything on the site that would have precipitated a attack by the bear, such as food, a cooking site or access to water.  
300 lb male bear killed while eating victim at Groom Creek, Arizona
The last fatal bear attack in Arizona occurred on June 28, 20ll, near Pinetop, about 200 miles to the east of Groom Creek.  From eastvalleytribune.com:

On June 28, Hollingsworth was walking her dog near her family’s vacation home in Pinetop when a bear rummaging for trash attacked her. She suffered severe lacerations of her scalp and arms and contracted an infection from bacteria carried in the bear’s claws. Wildlife officials later located the bear and killed it.

She underwent 11 surgeries before dying from a brain hemorrhage on Monday at a Scottsdale hospital.

The American Hunter reports 15 bear attacks have happened in Arizona since 1990. From the americanhunter.com:

There have been 15 bear attacks on people in the state since 1990. This is the second fatal bear attack in Arizona since then, which is as far back as the department’s database tracks. The first fatality occurred in 2011 in Pinetop.

A near-fatal bear attack was stopped by Brett Kramer on Mount Lemmon, near Tucson, in 1996. Brett shot the bear with his .44 magnum Ruger Super Blackhawk to save camper Anna Knochel. Other bear attacks in Arizona were stopped with handguns in 2002, 2012, and 2016, as shown in records from our pistol defense data base.

More fatal attacks by black bears would occur in Arizona if residents and visitors were not armed.

About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

Dean Weingarten