ARIZONA STRIP – Arizona Highway Patrol, a division of Arizona Department of Public Safety, and St. George Police were on scene at Arizona mile marker 26.5 of Interstate 15 southbound, about one-half mile south of Black Rock Road Exit (27), where AHP detained and took into custody three people police now believe are some of the suspects they have been pursuing since Tuesday morning.
Read more about the St. George incident earlier Tuesday: News LIVE: Pursuit underway for suspects west of Port of Entry
“About one o’clock this afternoon, Arizona troopers advised us that they were checking on three individuals that were on the Interstate in Arizona,” St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said around 2:30 p.m. from I-15 in Arizona where the three were detained. “These three individuals were attempting to flag down cars and it looked suspicious.”
St. George Communications Center received several calls around 1 p.m. reporting three suspicious individuals near the I-15 southbound location where the three were ultimately detained and coordinated with Arizona DPS to respond to the incident.
St. George Police have been in pursuit of four people, two men and two women, who abandoned a truck in an embankment on the right shoulder of Interstate 15 near the Port of Entry this morning after leaving a traffic stop for speeding during which a St. George Police officer ascertained that the truck had been stolen out of Wyoming and carried a license plate stolen out of Colorado. The truck was found abandoned near Utah’s port of entry Tuesday morning, its occupants apparently fleeing west into the surrounding desert.
“Because of what happened in St. George early this morning,” Despain said, “obviously it piqued our interest and we went to respond as well.”
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Videocast by Devan Chavez, St. George News
“Right now, the (Arizona DPS) has detained three individuals, two females and one male,” Arizona DPS Sgt. John T. Bottoms told St. George News just after 2 p.m., “and we’re working with the St. George Police Department to see if they’re related to the incident this morning.”
Despain said the three people detained by Arizona DPS include a 30-year-old male, a 21-year-old female and a 22-year-old female and St. George Police is working with Arizona DPS, interviewing the three to determine the extent of their involvement and as much information as they can to identify the fourth suspect who has not yet been found.
Earlier this morning, it was reported that a pair of women’s shoes had been found after being ditched near the abandoned truck. One of the detained women was missing her shoes. Her feet were bloody and she was reportedly having a difficult time walking or standing.
“There is one suspect who is still at large,” Despain said. “We’re trying to find out who that is and get as much information as we possibly can about that additional man who is still at large.”
At 9:43 a.m., after the reportedly stolen truck was abandoned on the shoulder of I-15 in Utah, a white Mercedes was reported stolen from a garage in the nearby community of SunRiver St. George.
“At this point we are still considering whether (the stolen Mercedes) is linked to this case,” Despain said from the scene where the three suspects were detained, “and we’re trying to confirm that, we haven’t ruled it out just yet.”
St. George Police Department is working closely with Arizona DPS, Despain said, to figure out potential charges that may be brought in both Utah and Arizona.
At about 4:10 p.m. the Police Department’s statement posted said that it has been determined that the three detained are associated with the abandoned truck incident in St. George Tuesday morning. The statement also said that the stolen Mercedes incident in SunRiver is believed to be related as well. Correcting earlier description in part, the statement described the Mercedes as a white 2002 Mercedes Benz Model SLD320, Utah license plate of 8479S.
All three of the persons detained on I-15 in Arizona were taken into custody by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.
Ed. note Dec. 11: Clarification: Arizona’s agency involved in this report is Arizona Department of Public Safety which has a highway patrol division. All short references to AHP have been revised to Arizona DPS at the request of the Department of Public Safety for clarity.
This is a developing story.
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