ST. GEORGE — A carjacking at a St. George gas station late Tuesday night led to a police shootout in a residential neighborhood in Santa Clara that resulted in a police K-9 and the carjacking suspect being shot. Both the K-9 and the suspect underwent surgery for their injuries early Wednesday morning. Their condition is unknown as this report publishes.
Authorities said the ordeal began around 10 p.m. Tuesday when officers were responding to a report of a disturbance involving a man throwing objects at the Mira Monte Sinclair Station located at 386 N. Bluff St.
While officers were en route to the call, the suspect allegedly took a white truck by force, Washington County Critical Incident Task Force Investigations Director Barry Golding said.
“We’re not quite sure how that happened, how he was able to obtain that vehicle, but he basically carjacked a gentleman at the Sinclair,” Golding told St. George News following a preliminary investigation at approximately 2 a.m. Wednesday.
When the truck was reported stolen, the owner of the truck notified police that an AR-15 assault rifle was in the back seat of the truck, Golding added.
The suspect took off in the truck before crashing the vehicle up the street near the area of 1500 W. 1250 North, police said.
“The result of the crash, I think, disabled that truck to where he couldn’t drive it,” Golding said. “So then, he took a second truck, which was very similar – it was a white full-sized truck so, now, the police are looking for a white truck and just coincidentally, he happens to find another white truck.”
Authorities spotted the suspect heading toward Santa Clara from St. George, but terminated their pursuit as he approached Lava Flow Drive, Golding said, adding that in high-risk situations, officers will typically terminate the pursuit.
Although officers had disengaged, the suspect continued to flee and drive recklessly, ultimately crashing the second stolen truck into the carport of a residence near 2298 Santa Clara Drive.
“He’s coming up this road, he hits a tree then he bounces off, comes over, takes out a light post and then, basically, went through a garage,” Golding said, and ends up in the backyard of the residence here.”
A citizen called police to report that a white truck had crashed into a Santa Clara home, officials said.
“Police show up, the adult male is still in the truck. They try to talk to him and they try to negotiate him out of the truck. In the process, a K-9 was deployed. The K-9 got into the vehicle at which point the adult male subject shot the K-9. At that point, multiple officers from multiple agencies fired upon (the vehicle) and they struck him.”
During the shootout, eight police officers fired weapons from three different agencies including four St. George Police officers, two Washington County Sheriff’s deputies and two Santa Clara officers, Golding said.
“Once he shot the dog, they saw the muzzle flash and they perceived a deadly force threat so, they engaged him,” Golding added.
Witnesses reported hearing between 30-40 gunshots, which Golding confirmed was possible.
“At this point,” Golding said, “I’m not aware of any other shots that (the suspect) fired other than the dog.”
That bullet hit Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy K-9 Tess in the jaw, officials said. The K-9 was taken to an expert in Las Vegas to undergo treatment.
“The dog, from my understanding, it’s still alive,” Golding said.
The Sheriff’s Office said it will discuss the condition of the K-9 at a press conference Wednesday morning.
The suspect, whose name was not immediately released, was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George to undergo surgery for multiple gunshots to the lower-half of his body, Golding said, noting that the man’s condition was unknown to him.
As this report publishes, the man’s identity had not been released but Golding said the man is believed to be from Hurricane and in his 50s.
The Washington County Critical Incident Task force is an interagency team of investigators, police officers, and prosecutors tasked with investigating officer-involved shootings and other critical incidents in Washington County.
This is a developing story.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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