Black bear kills Arizona man having coffee in apparent unprovoked attack, officials say

A 66-year-old man died in what appears to be an unprovoked bear attack in a wooded area in Arizona, officials say.

Witnesses say the man, Steven Jackson of Tucson, "had been sitting having coffee at a table on his property where he was building a home" when the attack happened on June 16, according to a press release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

"It appears that a male black bear attacked Mr. Jackson, taking him unaware, and dragged him approximately 75 feet down an embankment," the statement continues. "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."

By the time the neighbor shot the bear, Jackson had died from his injuries, the release says.

The sheriff's department shared photos on Facebook of the area where Jackson was presumably attacked and then dragged, near Prescott in central Arizona.

While this attack "appeared to be predatory in nature," it is also "highly uncommon and unusual," according to Arizona Game and Fish, via the press release.

"At first glance there did not appear to be anything on the site that would have precipitated (an) attack by the bear, such as food, a cooking site or access to water," the release says.

There have been 15 bear attacks on people in Arizona since 1990, and this is the second fatal bear attack in the state since then, which is as far back as the department tracks, according to the Arizona Game and Fish website.

Authorities are investigating the death and the attack and say there is no threat to the public at this time.

“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.”

Arizona Game and Fish also sent condolences in a statement.

“Our hearts go out to Mr. Jackson’s family over today’s tragic incident,” said Todd Geiler of Prescott, a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. “This was an especially aggressive, unprovoked attack that reminds us that wildlife can be unpredictable. On behalf of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, and the entire staff of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, we offer our sincere condolences during this difficult time.”

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