UPDATE 3:45 p.m. This incident began just before 11 a.m. Monday when a La Verkin police officer attempted to stop a car for a traffic infraction. Corporal Todd Johnson of the Utah Highway Patrol said that when the vehicle refused to yield, a chase ensued and Cedar City Dispatch was notified. Johnson confirmed that the chase first headed south to La Verkin, to Hurricane, and then northbound on I-15 and so forth as earlier reported in this story.
At this time, “they are still negotiating,” said Johnson. He confirmed that the driver and possibly two passengers, at least one of which is a child, are still in the vehicle in the standoff and that the driver has a gun. “I’ve not heard of any threats against the passengers, mainly the driver threatening himself.”
“Area SWAT and negotiator teams were called in and they’re trying to resolve it.”
WASHINGTON COUNTY – Shortly before 11:30 a.m. an apparent traffic infaction gave rise to a vehicle chase that has sped across SR-9, transitioned northbound on I-15, where three tires were spiked at about Mile Marker 23. The suspect vehicle which had been paced at 70 mph slowed to around 55 mph but continued northbound and then looped across the highway, reversing direction southbound. The pursuit came to a halt around Hurricane exit sometime around 12:30 p.m.
During the chase and continuing as this story goes to publication, the suspect driver has had and still has a gun, and holds it to his head. The suspect is still in the vehicle, with his his 6 or 7-year-old son with him, head on lap; another passenger is visible in the front seat (who may be his eldest, high school aged son). Law enforcement have confirmed that the suspect’s youngest child is currently with a relative in San Diego.
Multiple law enforcement agencies have been and remain involved in the action, including police, sheriff, SWAT and more. Negotiators are on scene in an effort to resolve the situation.
Traffic is being diverted both north and southbound I-15; northbound traffic is being diverted on SR9 and 17; southbound at Exit 27.
Law enforcement are in contact with relatives and teachers and other people, developing a profile to assist the officers on scene. In essence, from what is streaming live on County Dispatch, the suspect is apparently known to have emotional issues, may be paranoid that his ex-wife is going to take his children away from him, but is said to be very attached to his children.
Particulars of this story derive from the ongoing County Dispatch stream between law enforcement agencies and may vary as the incident unfolds and investigation is undertaken.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.