Driver holds knife to his throat following high-speed chase

The aftermath of a high-speed chase that started in Toquerville and ended in the Promenade at Red Cliffs shopping center parking lot in St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A Washington City man led police from multiple agencies on a chaotic high-speed chase from Hurricane to a St. George shopping center parking lot Monday evening.

Around 5:30 p.m., Washington County law enforcement agencies were informed of a reckless driver passing through Toquerville. As the white Nissan Xterra SUV continued through the area units from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Hurricane City Police Department began pursuit, Washington City Police Lt. Jason Williams said in a press release.

The driver was later identified as 50-year-old Shawn Offret.

The aftermath of a high-speed chase that started in Toquerville and ended in the Promenade at Red Cliffs shopping center parking lot in St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Police attempts to stop the Xterra were thwarted by the speed and recklessness of Offret’s driving.

The Xterra proceeded through Hurricane on State Street and was involved in a collision that resulted in a minor injury to a woman. Offret turned onto state Route 9 reached speeds of up to 80 mph at one point.

He entered Interstate 15 via Exit 16 and began driving south into oncoming northbound traffic. Pursuing officers stopped the chase over safety concerns and Washington City officers began to slow northbound traffic to prevent a collision.

Though the pursuit was paused, Offret turned around, got back onto SR-9 and entered the Coral Canyon area, where he stopped at a family member’s home.

Offret “gained unlawful access and stole prescription medication and a large knife,” Williams wrote. A vehicle at the home was burglarized.

The chase started again as Washington City Police found and attempted to stop the Xterra in the Coral Canyon area.

The aftermath of a high-speed chase that started in Toquerville and ended in the Promenade at Red Cliffs shopping center parking lot in St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“The driver would not stop and spike strips were deployed,” Williams wrote. “The suspect’s vehicle hit the spike strip, which deflated the front left tire. The suspect continued onto Telegraph Street where it began to travel into oncoming traffic.”

The pursuit continued through Washington City and then St. George as Telegraph Street turned into Red Cliffs Drive. Offret blew through numerous traffic lights along the way and continued driving in a reckless manner.

Offret took the Xterra off Red Cliffs Drive and into the parking lot of the Promenade at Red Cliffs shopping center where his attempt to flee police was observed by passerby Jake Peterson.

“I saw this white car flying in (the parking lot) with a blown tire and then here comes two cops,” Peterson said.

Offret was weaving through the  parking lot at around 20 mph.

As he drove nearer the stores, Offret jumped out of the passenger side of the Xterra as it continued to run without a driver. He ran toward the Deseret Book store, grabbed the door handle but paused and then headed back toward his car, Peterson said.

Shawn Offret, of Washington, Utah, bookigns photo Aug. 13, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Washignton County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

“(He) decided it was a bad idea, ran back to his car and saw the cops and turned and went running. He left his car there and it ran into a cop car and they chased him down. It was all pretty quick.”

Offret had the knife on him when he jumped from the Xterra and ran into a jewelry store where he put the knife to his neck, threatening to hurt himself when the police caught up to him.

“Officers were able to de-escalate the situation and take the male safely into custody,” Williams wrote in the press release.

As for the Xterra, a Washington City Police officer had stopped it with the front-passenger side of his police cruiser so it wouldn’t run into pedestrian traffic in the area.

Offret was taken to the Purgatory Correctional Facility following the incident.

According to court records, Offret faces felonies charges for burglary and failing to stop at a police officer’s command, as well as multiple misdemeanors including driving under the influence of alcohol, vehicle burglary and reckless driving, among other charges.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Ed. note: This story has been updated to include Offret’s bookings photo and charges related to Monday’s incident.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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