Vehicle theft spurs high-speed chase, ends in shooting

High speed chase from St. George ends at Texaco-Chevron station on state Route-9 in Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 19, 2012 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News
High speed chase from St. George ends at Texaco-Chevron station on state Route-9 in Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 19, 2012 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A vehicle theft triggered a high-speed chase from Hurricane through multiple cities and ending back in Hurricane this evening with shots fired and a standoff. Utah Highway Patrol was called into the action at 6:55 p.m.

According to an 8:55 p.m. press release issued by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, a female suspect had been arrested by officers this evening. When the officer attempted to remove the female from his vehicle at the jail, Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, the suspect displayed a weapon and was able to steal a police vehicle.  She led officers from multiple agencies on a high speed pursuit.  Spikes were deployed and the pursuit eventually terminated in Hurricane.

“At the end of the pursuit there was an armed confrontation between the suspect and officers,” the Sheriff’s press release said. “One deputy fired their weapon and struck the suspect, ending the stand off.”

The mobile incident, as it was described by Washington County Dispatch, ran from state Route-9 near the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, through LaVerkin and Toquerville, onto Interstate-15 down and back onto state Route-9 until it was contained.

The chase ended at the Texaco-Chevron station on state Route-9 in Hurricane, Utah Department of Public Safety’s Cpl. Todd Johnson said, where shots were fired and the female suspect was hit.

Bryan Searle, points to the location where he was in his red car as the suspect pulled in next to him in a stolen K-9 police vehicle, ending in a shootout at the Chevron station on state Route-9, Hurricane, Utah, Nov. 19, 2012 | Photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Bryan Searle was parked at the Chevron station when the high speed chase came into the parking lot. The suspect, driving a K-9 police vehicle she had stolen, pulled in right next to Searle.

“She got out of the cop car and tried jumping into my car on the passenger side and the cops were yelling at me to get out and run that she had a gun,” Searle said. “I was about three steps out of my car and shots were fired.”

Searle said he didn’t know who fired the shots. “She had a gun in her hand when she was trying to open my door.  I was too scared I didn’t even get a good look at her.  I seen her hands come up to the door with a gun and the officers yelling at me to run and that’s what I did.”

Run Searle did, and as other law enforcement arrived and saw him running, Searle said they thought he was a passenger from the stolen vehicle and they tackled him and cuffed him until they realized he was an innocent bystander.

Multiple agencies were involved in the law enforcement action. Johnson said that Utah Highway Patrol was not involved in the shooting.

Unconfirmed reports via scanner chatter indicate the dog was in the vehicle and is OK and that the suspect was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center.

The Washington County Critical Incident Task Force has been called out to investigate the incident.

Washington County’s Critical Incident Task Force operates under the purview of the Washington County Attorney, with the concept that agencies other than the agency involved conduct investigations in certain incidents. The trigger for the Critical Incident Team’s involvement is when an officer is involved in the potential use of deadly force.

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

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

 

UPDATED 8:50 p.m. with route of the pursuit.

UPDATED 9:30 p.m. reflecting information received by press release from Washington County Sheriff’s Department and eyewitness account from Bryan Searle.

UPDATED 10:15 p.m. with additional photos

Related subsequent story: Authorities release details

St. George News photographer Dave Amodt contributed to this story.

Email: jkuzmanic@stgnews.com

Twitter: @JoyceKuzmanic

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.

 

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17 Comments

  • Bev Lowe November 19, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for the real time reporting. What we need to know now.

  • Misty Amodt November 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    Thank God that none of the officers nor Mr. Searle were hurt!!! That is frightening! What is wrong with people???

  • San November 19, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Praise God that the K-9 was not injured, or anyone else shot…what a harrowing night for a lot of good people. I hope she spends many holiday seasons in prison!

  • Bryan searle November 20, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Thanks misty I’m still shook up over it. I just thank god I dropped my boy off to his mother 10 min before it happened! He would have been in the back seat and witnessed that woman getting shot…..

    • Misty Amodt November 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      I will be praying for you.

  • Poop November 20, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Police suck.

  • t November 20, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I wonder why the officer left keys in a vehicle ? Or why wasn’t the suspect patted down when arrested? Sounds like poor procedure and put lives at risk.

    • Char November 20, 2012 at 11:35 pm

      The keys are always left inthe vehicles witht the motor running. I too was wondering why she was not patted down.

  • Dick Cherry November 20, 2012 at 8:24 am

    I have always and still do appreciate our local law enforcement, well trained, and cordial, but somebody has some explaining to do! Luckily no one was injured but the cat thief. But having arrested her how did she get a gun (handcuffs?) and a police vehicle?

  • dont judge too quickly November 20, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Its my understanding when an officer takes someone to the jail there is some sort of a garage they pull into to get the prisioner out of their vehicle. if its an enclosed place, why would they need to take their keys out of the cars? they usually have 2 sets and leave their cars running when they are out on calls, so why would the jail be any different? Also people get out of handcuffs or move their hands from their back of their bodies to the front all the time. People are sneaky.

    Maybe she wasnt properly searched, but what if she was and was able to get ahold of one of the officers guns in the car? I have heard they have some in their vehicles as well as on person. Where this was the k9 unit, im sure there wasn’t a cage or a place to transport her. If she was in the front seat it would give her more access to his property. maybe this is an option. dont be to quick to judge.

    thank you to all the law enforcement officers involved in this crazy incident. glad everyone was able to go home safely to their families!

  • Goldies Pa November 20, 2012 at 10:03 am

    I would really like to see some answers on this. But whatever lead to this situation, is likely going to be classified as a “personnel matter,” and not open to public review. Obviously there is at least one officer that is going to have some tough questions to answer, and most likely some disciplinary action. Lets just remember that we were not there, and have no way of knowing what happened.

    Everybody makes mistakes. It is just that some are a lot more serious than others.

  • ken November 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    A male officer isn’t able to do a thorough search of a female suspect. She very easily could have hidden a gun in her crotch area. I would think the police don’t take their keys when they are in a sally port of a jail.

  • Carlos Santana November 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Dis place iz turning hard core, yo

  • Maryssa poff November 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Is this going to be ont he news

  • Steven Holloway December 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    I know this gal. She actually got a bad deal with Nevada athouritys and did an unfair stretch in jail and she was just scared. It happens ! Save your judgments !!!

  • Marie March 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    How dare the police shoot a woman! That police man should never have shot that woman. The cities of St. George and Hurricane should rally to protect women from police brutality.

    • My Evil Twin March 30, 2013 at 10:17 am

      You are a total and complete idiot! And you know it! Why don’t you go play hopscotch on the freeway.

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