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 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.
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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.
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