Man charged with attempted murder over kayak



Yavapai County Sheriff's deputies arrested a man Wednesday on charges including attempted second-degree murder after he allegedly shot at three men kayaking down the Verde River near the Childs campground area.

At noon, dispatchers received a call from one of the kayakers who said a man shot at them with a rifle and ordered them out of the river at gunpoint, said Deputy Scott Reed, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

The caller said no one was hit by the gunfire and that the man had left the area, Reed said.

A Yavapai County Sheriff's Deputy assigned to Forest Patrol found a man later identified as Samuel Houston Phariss, 70, of Childs, Ariz., who matched the suspect's description in the nearby campground.

After the deputy arrested Phariss at the campground, witnesses told the deputy that Phariss appeared to be looking for his kayak while threatening to kill whoever took it from his home.

The victims told the deputy that they were kayaking down the river when the suspect fired at least three shots at them from 50 yards away, hitting the water about six inches from one of the kayakers, Reed said.

The suspect then approached the river, ordered the three men at gunpoint to get out of their kayaks, and accused the men of stealing a kayak from his home, Reed said.

After the suspect looked at the three kayaks and determined none of them was his, he left the area, Reed said.

The deputy did not find the rifle, but did find empty shell casings from a 30.06 rifle near the river, Reed said.

Investigation continues into the incident, Reed said.

A deputy booked Phariss into Yavapai County Jail on one count of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and three counts of kidnapping.