The Payson Police Department is on the hunt for three fugitives, considered armed and dangerous, who were involved in the assault of a Payson man at gunpoint Tuesday morning.
Lt. Don Engler said the victim, whose name is not being released, was getting into his van on Summit Street around 11:30 a.m. when three men ambushed him.
"There was a scuffle and the victim managed to get out of the van and yell for neighbors to call police," Engler said. "We don't believe this was a random crime, but we are still investigating."
The suspects, described as three Hispanic males between the ages of 25 and 30, fled the scene in two cars, a maroon Ford Crown Victoria and a two-door silver compact car. One had an assault rifle and another had a handgun, Engler said.
Sgt. Donny Garvin said the victim suffered a head wound, but refused medical treatment.
Tuesday afternoon, a Gila County Sheriff's deputy spotted the maroon car parked along Highway 87 at milepost 245, north of Rye. A manhunt began and the Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter was called to assist.
"We found one weapon (a rifle) and footprints," Engler said.
"We believe they took off on foot into the drainage area," Sgt. Tom Tieman said.
Officers combed the area on foot but the search was called off around 9 p.m. because of darkness, Engler said.
"We searched with dogs and the helicopter and never found anybody," Tieman said.
The car was impounded as evidence.
The police are asking for the public's help to find the suspects or get any information on identifying them.
"One (suspect) is described as Hispanic, 5-feet 4-inches tall, weighing approximately 180 pounds and wearing a yellow baseball cap, a blue jacket and blue jeans," Engler said. "The second suspect is described as a Hispanic male, 30 years old, 5-feet 4-inches tall, thin and wearing a black jacket, black pants and a black baseball cap. The third man is described as Hispanic, 25 years old, with a crew cut and wearing a yellow jacket with a hood and blue jeans."
Police believe all three are either still in the wilderness around Rye or were picked up by someone. If anyone has information, call (928) 474-5177. Callers can remain anonymous.