WASHINGTON COUNTY – In custody at about 8:30 p.m. Monday is the driver of the vehicle which first evaded La Verkin police Monday morning over a traffic violation. As reported by St. George news in detail earlier today, a high speed chase ensued through multiple cities in Washington County, on State Routes, to Interstate 15 and eventually coming to a halt just north of the SR-9 and I-15 interchange.
By that time, law enforcement officers had observed passengers in the vehicle with the driver and the driver bearing a gun, sometimes holding it to his head. The passengers were eventually determined to be two children of the driver.
Detective Nate Abbot of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department was on scene most of the day as SWAT and Sheriff’s Department negotiators worked with the offender in an effort to bring him into custody and obtain release of the children without physical harm.
“We had good communication with him,” said Abbott. “Both Sheriff’s and SWAT negotiators helped with negotiations. Our main focus was negotiations.”
Abbott said they were able to make contact with him through his cell phone. “They spent almost constant contact through the entire process. It got to the point that his cell phone battery died – they lost contact – they deployed the robot and were able to deliver a phone to him at the vehicle and reinitate contact with him.” Abbot said that they continued to negotiate with him for about an hour and a half after that and then the children were released, each within a few minutes of each other.
“The two children [were released] and then he surrendered and the three were taken into custody.”
Abbot said that the offender maintained contact with [the] negotiations team and they were able to talk him into peacefully surrendering himself around 8:30 p.m.
The children did not appear to be physically harmed and were taken into the custody of Child Protective Services. “Everything seems to be okay that way,” said Abbott.
The offender was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility for booking. Abbott said that he would be charged on the traffic violation and evading arrest, with La Verkin Police Department as the arresting agency since they were involved in the incident’s inception.
No determination has been made as to the offender’s mental condition or other factors triggering the day’s episode. Abbot said of investigators developing the case, “they’ll work through all that.”
Abbott confirmed that both northbound and southband lanes of I-15 are now open for normal traffic flow.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.