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Ariz. police officer who fatally shot suspect Tuesday has killed at least 5 while on duty

Officer James Peters CBS/KPHO

(CBS/KPHO/AP) SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - An Arizona police officer who allegedly shot and killed a suspect while the man held his baby grandson on Tuesday night has been involved in seven shootings in the past 10 years, and killed at least five people, according to Sgt. Mark Clark with the Scottsdale Police Department.

James Peters is a 12-year veteran of the force.

On Tuesday night, officers responded to the home of 50-year-old John Loxas, who neighbors said was pointing a gun at them and kicking and throwing trash, all while holding his baby grandson, reports CBS affiliate KPHO.

When police arrived, three officers - including Peters - made their way to the front door. One officer says he spotted what was believed to be a weapon.

Sgt. Clark said the suspect was holding the child in his left arm in front of his upper body and face. The suspect then reached down to his right, lowering the baby and exposing his head and upper body. Officer Peters fired a single shot to the suspect's head. The suspect fell to the ground and the baby was rescued by officers. The suspect died instantly, according to Sgt Clark, and the baby was unharmed.

Inside the home, police say they found two loaded pistols, including one between the arm and cushion of a chair a few feet away from where the suspect fell. Police also told KPHO they had been to the same home in 2009 where the same man was also believed to have been waiving a gun at people.

"In this particular case we had someone the officers were confronting that had already pointed his pistol at at least two neighbors while he had a child in his arms, so there's a lot of factors that go into the decision to shoot - certainly the presence of a weapon is one of them or the perceived presence of a weapon," Clark said Wednesday morning.

Scottsdale police said Officer Peters has been investigated in all his previous shootings and it has been determined that he was justified in all of them.

In the first incident, Peters shot at a suspect in a domestic SWAT situation but missed.

In his next three shootings, he killed: a disbarred lawyer who was pacing a canal with a shotgun; a suspect who reportedly tried to attack another officer with a pipe; and a gunman holding a hostage in a supermarket.

In all of those cases, multiple police and county attorney investigations ruled Peters' actions justified. He was even heralded as a hero, and garnered a write-up in an industry newsletter on policeone.com.

But the Scottsdale Police Department had to settle with the victim's family out of court in the officer's fifth shooting after Peters and others cut the power to a suspect's home and shot him dead when he came out with a gun to investigate.

In 2010, Peters opened fire on bank robbery suspect Jimmy Hammack who Peters and another officer said had jumped into his truck and drove at them. Hammack later died.

In Tuesday's killing of Loxas, Peters was the only one who pulled the trigger.

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