An Arizona man was mauled to death by a bear in an unprovoked, random attack on his property Friday morning, authorities said.
Tucson resident Steven Jackson, 66, was found dead next to the black bear in Groom Creek, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Jackson was outside drinking coffee on his property where he was building a home, when the animal began attacking him shortly before 8 a.m. local time.
“It appears that a male black bear attacked Mr. Jackson, taking him unaware, and dragged him approximately 75 feet down an embankment,” the sheriff’s office described.
After hearing Jackson’s screams, neighbors attempting to deter the bear by shouting and honking their car horns, but the animal did not relent.
A neighbor then retrieved his rifle and shot the bear, killing it.
“Unfortunately, by that time Mr. Jackson has succumbed to his horrible injuries,” the sheriff’s office’s press release said.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department told authorities that the incident was highly unusual, with a similar incident happening in the mid-1980s. Officials are dumbstruck because there was nothing on site that would have necessarily attracted the bear.
“At first glance, there did not appear to be anything on the site that would have precipitated a[n] attack by the bear, such as food, a cooking site or access to water,” the sheriff’s office said.
Arizona Game and Fish Department officials believe the bear’s aggression was a “predatory response”, but they are unsure what caused it.
“Our sincere sympathies go out to Mr. Jackson’s family” Sheriff David Rhodes said in a statement. “I cannot express how deeply sad this situation is and can only say our prayers are with you.”
Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office is actively investigating the incident. Officials ask residents to not shoot bears unless they detect an imminent threat.