Police swarm Dixie State University campus amid reports of armed suspect; arrest made

ST. GEORGE — Police swarmed the Dixie State University campus and surrounding area Wednesday night following reports that a man had entered the campus carrying a gun in each hand. The man was later located and detained by police.

A 19-year-old St. George man was arrested following reports that he had entered the Dixie State University campus carrying a gun in each hand, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2016 | Photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News
A 19-year-old St. George man was arrested following reports that he had entered the Dixie State University campus carrying a gun in each hand, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2016 | Photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News

Just after 8:30 p.m., an alarmed witness called 911 to report that they saw someone walking near 700 East and 100 South carrying two black firearms, St. George Police Sgt. Johnny Heppler said.

A second 911 call was then placed by another concerned witness who reported a similar description of an individual carrying a pistol in each hand, Heppler said. The witness reported that the armed suspect turned eastbound off 700 East and onto the college campus at about 300 South.

St. George Police and Dixie State University Campus Police – approximately 20 officers – responded and set up a large perimeter around the college campus and surrounding area in search of the suspect.

Police checked buildings and talked to anybody in the area at the time the incident was reported in an effort to confirm the reported information and verify there wasn’t a significant incident going on, Heppler said.

A 19-year-old St. George man was arrested following reports that he had entered the Dixie State University campus carrying a gun in each hand, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2016 | Photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News
A 19-year-old St. George man was arrested following reports that he had entered the Dixie State University campus carrying a gun in each hand, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2016 | Photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News

“Our concern, obviously, the fact that it’s finals because, quite often, a lot of people are upset – either they didn’t get to take their final or they failed their final,” DSU Director of Campus Police Don Reid said, “and then the information that they got that they turned in right towards the Holland building – as I say, the Holland building is a priority for us in these kind of situations.”

Officers encountered the suspect walking on the edge of the campus on 1000 East and detained him, Heppler said. The suspect, identified as a 19-year-old St. George resident, was reportedly not a student at Dixie State.

“We located two pistols,” Heppler said. “As it turns out, they were BB guns. Both black BB guns that resembled a realistic firearm.”

Police were able to confirm that the man had just purchased the BB guns at Hurst Ben Franklin, Reid said, and that he was on his way home.

A 19-year-old St. George man was arrested following reports that he had entered the Dixie State University campus carrying a gun in each hand, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2016 | Photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News
A 19-year-old St. George man was arrested following reports that he had entered the Dixie State University campus carrying a gun in each hand, St. George, Utah, May 4, 2016 | Photo by Michael Durrant, St. George News

“It’s a wonder that he got this far before somebody saw him, but it may be that he didn’t show them or carry them to his side until he got to this point,” Reid said. “ … He was asked why he was carrying them out in the open to his side. My understanding is that he made the statement ‘because it seemed cool’ or ‘felt cool,’ I don’t know.”

The suspect was taken to Dixie State University headquarters to be questioned, Reid said. Charges will be pending,

Heppler said it’s important for people to remember that the college is busy this time of year. During finals week there are a lot of people on edge and people’s emotions are high, he said.

“I can’t think of very many circumstances where it would be considered reasonable to walk onto a school campus with a toy pistol or a real pistol or anything like that,” Heppler said. “And just walk B-line right through the center of campus during a busy time with a pistol in each hand; it’s unreasonable to think that that wouldn’t cause people alarm.”

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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6 Comments

  • BoyMom May 5, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I am very disappointed in the school.
    My son lives in the dorm on that corner of campus and at no time received an emergency alert through the text system they have in place.
    Until it was know that there was no danger, the dorms and other buildings should have been locked down for their safety.
    I am very glad it did not end in tragedy.

  • Ron May 5, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    He was trailblazing….or blazed.

  • Ronnie Keith May 5, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    One can only wonder how so many young adults can be so stupid! Is it societies fault, their parents, or are they just that ignorant? I do not think he would have felt so cool, if he had gotten himself shot for being that clueless ! And this city would probably have had a fund-raising event, for the poor kid that got shot by the evil police. While carrying a realistic looking toy gun in each hand. As he walked across Dixie State campus …

    • .... May 6, 2016 at 10:35 am

      Well when you have people like the Realmcnutjob walking around loose. anything is possible

  • ladybugavenger May 6, 2016 at 9:40 pm

    These kids didn’t grow up in the 80’s that’s the problem. The world was so much different then. Reagan was Predident, you could buy cigarettes at any age, weed was popular ( oh yes, it still is) teachers were better. Life was better in the 80’s. These kids are growing up in terrible times. It’s obamas fault.

  • Alina June 19, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    for sure he is a bad guy, but his shirt is lit . Such a badass 😀

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