HONDAH — FBI officials have released the identity of a man they say allegedly tried to rob an armored vehicle Monday at Hon-Dah Resort Casino and Conference Center.
The man, identified as Buddy E. Martel, 52, of Hondah, was killed around 10 a.m. Monday during an apparent failed armored car robbery attempt.
The FBI’s Phoenix office, along with Bureau of Indian Affairs officials, said a female cash courier making a stop at the Hon-Dah Resort Casino was approached by Martel, who allegedly sprayed her with an unidentified chemical irritant. The courier then reportedly pulled her pistol and shot Martel near the front door of the casino, where he fell and died a short time later from a gunshot wound.
Two witnesses told law enforcement officials that as they were entering into the casino via the entrance across from the gas station, they saw the motionless body of a man lying on the cement at the front doors. They also said the female cash courier who shot him was standing beside the body with a weapon in her hand.
No one else was injured in the shooting and no one else is suspected in the robbery attempt, Phoenix FBI representative Jill McCabe said.
“The cash carrier was treated on scene and is expected to be OK,” she said.
The incident was a second violent episode in more than a month at the White Mountain Apache Tribe-owned resort and casino.
On the July 11, an armed robbery occurred around 3:30 p.m. during which a middle-aged man between 5 feet, 5 inches to 5 feet, 7 inches tall, with a slender build, black, white and red facial/head covering and wearing a gray-blue suit and white shoes got away with an undisclosed amount of money from one of the cages where money is exchanged for chips. During that robbery, the suspect, who is still being sought, was only in the casino for less than 90 seconds, officials with the Phoenix FBI Field Office said.
When asked if Monday’s incident may be connected to the July 11 robbery, McCabe said the investigation is ongoing, “so at this point we are not ruling anything out.”
In 2014, a man was shot and killed by police after he fired upon and wounded two people outside the casino. During that incident three years ago, the alleged shooter engaged an argument with his wife in the parking lot of the resort and casino and retrieved a rifle from a rear compartment of his sedan. A security guard was shot twice and a patron was injured.