News LIVE: 3 of 4 possible suspects detained by AHP in Arizona; Updated 2:15 p.m.

Washington County Sheriff's deputies arrest two after two high speed chases end in Virgin. | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

NEWS LIVE: This report contains news live as it develops and is being updated continuously. Bookmark and refresh the page periodically for updates. Last updated 2:15 p.m. – see updates at top of the story.

ST. GEORGE – A search for four suspects that fled a vehicle and ran into the desert west of Interstate 15 at the Port of Entry near the Utah-Arizona border is ongoing and a citizen alert has been issued to residents in the nearby areas, particularly those in the SunRiver St. George community.

Update 2:15 p.m.

Three of four suspects that fled a stolen vehicle near Utah’s Port of Entry Tuesday morning appear to have been caught by Arizona Department of Public Safety’s highway patrol division. The three are detained on the side of Interstate 15 at Arizona milepost 26.5, about one-half mile south of Black Rock Road Exit (27), Arizona DPS Sgt. John T. Bottoms said.

“Right now, the (Arizona DPS) has detained three individuals, two females and one male,” Bottoms said, “and we’re working with the St. George Police Department to see if they’re related to the incident this morning.”

Update – 1:30 pm

A woman reported at 9:43 a.m. that a Mercedes Benz SLK320 was stolen from her garage on the 4900 block of Bonita Bay Drive in the SunRiver St. George subdivision this morning, Giles confirmed in a public statement Tuesday afternoon.

The vehicle is described as a white 2002 Mercedes SLK320 roadster with a purple heart license plate. Investigation is ongoing at about 1:15 p.m. into whether or not the stolen Mercedes is connected to the morning incident near Utah’s Port of Entry.

SunRiver is a residential area near the area where the four subjects abandoned the truck involved in the incident.

Morning report

The citizens alert issued as a reverse-911 by phone, text and by email reads:

Criminal Suspects in the area

St. George Police are actively looking for 4 individuals that crashed a stolen car and fled from officers on foot in the area of Sunriver and Bloomington.  2 males and 2 females.  Male has a goatee, shaved head and tattoos.  Female is about 5’2″ and 170 lbs with dark hair.  The 2nd female is possibly a Hispanic female.  Please secure your vehicles and other property and report any suspicious activity to the St. George Police at 435-627-4300  

Four people, two men and two women, who police estimate are in their 20s or 30s, have led St. George Police and other agencies on a chase that started with a traffic stop on a 2009 Chevrolet 4-door pickup truck just after 4 a.m. for speeding.

One of the possible suspects under pursuit by law enforcement in the area of Point of Entry at Utah's southern border, St. George, Utah, Dec. 9, 2014 | Photo courtesy of St. George Police Department, St. George News
One of the possible suspects under pursuit by law enforcement in the area of Point of Entry at Utah’s southern border, St. George, Utah, Dec. 9, 2014 | Photo courtesy of St. George Police Department, St. George News

“A St. George officer observed a vehicle on I-15 traveling at 85 in a 65 zone and he made a traffic stop just north of Exit 2 here,” St. George Police Captain Mike Giles said, “made contact with the occupants – there were two males, two females.”

The officer obtained enough information to run checks on the vehicle and learned that the truck’s license plate was reported stolen out of Colorado, and the truck was reported stolen out of Wyoming.

“The officer made attempts to call the occupants out so that he could pull them away from the truck,” Giles said. “When he did that, the occupants yelled at the driver to “go;” the driver accelerated and in the process hit some sort of cement abutment somewhere along I-15 and blew the tire.”

The officer did not pursue the truck at that point but did watch it travel southbound, Giles said, and then saw some dust and debris further south from where he was located.

Truck ditched in a ditch by four occupants who fled police on foot near Utah's southern Port of Entry of Interstate 15 southbound, St. George, Utah, Dec. 9, 2014 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
A truck ditched in the median by four occupants who fled police on foot near Utah’s southern Port of Entry of Interstate 15 southbound, St. George, Utah, Dec. 9, 2014 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

The truck sustained a flat tire when it struck a cement lane divider as it drove away from the officer’s location, a statement released by the St. George Police Department said. The officer located the truck in the median just south of the Port of Entry where there is an emergency vehicle turnaround that crosses the median.

The vehicle was empty when the officer arrived, Giles said.

“The four occupants from the vehicle had left and went on foot – we believe westbound – into the desert area,” he said.

Utah Highway Patrol was contacted and dispatched its helicopter, Star 8, to assist with the search. Deputies that were on-duty with Washington County Sheriff’s Office also responded to assist when the incident began. Additional St. George Police Officers were called out quickly to assist with the initial canvass, Giles said.

Utah Highway Patrol's Star 8 helicopter aids in the search for four occupants fleeing police on foot near Utah's southern Port of Entry of Interstate 15 southbound, St. George, Utah, Dec. 9, 2014 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News
Utah Highway Patrol’s Star 8 helicopter aids in the search for four subjects fleeing police on foot near Utah’s southern Port of Entry of Interstate 15 southbound, St. George, Utah, Dec. 9, 2014 | Photo by Kimberly Scott, St. George News

By about 8 a.m. officers on scene involved in the search had located items believed to be ditched by the subjects, apparently running west at that time from the crashed truck, including a purse and girl’s shoes. About 50 feet further west they found a spring-loaded pellet or B.B. gun and a towel.

According to the police statement issued later, two pistols were found in the vehicle and area of the search but appeared at that point to be airsoft and/or b.b./pellet guns.

“They’ve been verified not to be firearms as in shooting bullets …,” Giles said. “We don’t know if they’re armed with any actual firearms but the ones that we found so far are the very realistic looking pistols so at a distance or from a glance you wouldn’t be able to tell if they are real or a B.B. or pellet gun.”

At 8:45 a.m., the police department released a photo of a person it believes to be one of the suspects, and reported that officers are still searching the desert area surrounding the crash site.

Citizen alert

A citizen notification was sent to the residents in a mile radius of the area. Citizens are asked to call 435-627-4300 if they see anyone suspicious that they feel may be associated with this incident. Do not pick up hitchhikers or allow strangers into your residence. The subjects will likely be looking for a means of transportation or somewhere warm to recover. Photos of the suspects will be posted soon.

Giles said:

Right now we’re asking citizens if they see anything suspicious, or if they see pairs or that group of four people or anything that doesn’t quite seem to fit the area – we believe they’ll probably be looking for transportation or warmth, shelter, food – just use caution, don’t invite strangers into your home; be careful about picking people up. If you have concerns, notify the police department at the 435-627-4300 telephone number. We can have officers come out and check.

This is a developing story, refresh page for updates.

St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.

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

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.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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30 Comments

  • sagemoon December 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Here’s to hoping for a peaceful resolution.

  • Koolaid December 9, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Mistaking air soft guns for pistols? Wow! Will this end up with shooting or tasering them to death?

    • Shoelyn December 9, 2014 at 12:39 pm

      Really…..that’s the issue that you see in this event, Koolaid? You’re an idiot, dude, and totally uncool.

      • Koolaid December 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm

        Well… if she’s 170# at 5′ 2″, then running might be good for her. Doubt she can run very fast and far.

      • Prongs December 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

        Thank you!!!! Koolaid drives me nuts, always commenting on every single thing and insulting everyone’s opinions!

        • Koolaid December 12, 2014 at 10:01 am

          I’m sorry if I insulted your lack of intelligence.

    • mo ferguson December 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      I sure hope so.

    • Brian December 9, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      That really depends on the actions of the criminals carrying the airsoft guns, doesn’t it. By the way, the police can’t just assume every gun with an orange tip is no threat (http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2014/05/robert-farago/gang-bangers-painting-orange-tips-on-real-guns/). If you were a cop you’d be making the same decisions they do, or you’d be dead.

    • ladybugavenger December 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Koolaids comment is not that far fetched. But, when I was flying around I think i saw the suspects near KOOLAIDS house. But i couldn’t see past the force shield koolaid has around him

      • Koolaid December 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

        Imagine the community and national outrage if I’m accidentally taken out by shots meant for these escapees. I can already hear it. “Oops.”

        • ladybugavenger December 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm

          Absolutely! What would the world do without KOOLAID.

          • ladybugavenger December 9, 2014 at 5:36 pm

            Well maybe not the world but certainly comments would be boring. “Oops” lol, that funny right there

  • Lees Antique Corner December 9, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Guns real or not point them at a cop and suffer thats all there is too it. If you dont want to get shot dont carry a gun and point it at them. Koolaid im not sure what to make of your comment????? Hope they catch them soon and peacefully

    • mo ferguson December 9, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Pointing a toy gun at a cop is akin to jumping out of a plane with an umbrella instead of a parachute….and hope you land safely. It is downright stupid.

  • Missy December 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Tasering?!?! Who do you call?!?!

  • Slick December 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    If the lady left the keys in her Mercedes, then it really didn’t get stolen. She was just giving someone the opportunity to use her car for the day, or however long they needed it. Maybe they bring it back, maybe they don’t.

    • Charles December 9, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      So if I leave my house unlocked that gives someone the right to go inside without permission? Why do you idiots continue to blame the victim rather than the criminal? Put the blame on the person who committed the crime and quit being a moron.

      • obviously December 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm

        Yes, if you leave stuff unsecured in this day and age, and city, you probably deserve to get ripped off.

        • Krazyk December 10, 2014 at 8:38 am

          Doesn’t make it right or legal. Just because your open and trusting doesn’t mean you deserve to get ripped off

          • My Evil Twin December 10, 2014 at 11:03 am

            Of course it isn’t right or legal. Unfortunately though, we live in the world the way it is, not the way we would like it to be.
            That means keep your stuff a little more secure than the next guy. It really isn’t a hard concept to acknowledge. Take your keys, lock your car. Keep you home and garage locked up. Now just what is so doggone hard about that?

  • @435MLS December 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I’m pretty sure this Chris Rock video applies, regardless of race.
    “Chris Rock – How not to get your a$$ kicked by the police!

  • villager December 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Concerning taser(s) usage by cops, just look into the Hurricane guy who was killed by them. The guy was naked (he had a gun, right?).
    News are to inform and entertain. Kool-aid has still a sense of humor. Thanks SGPD & SGNews.

    • Krazyk December 10, 2014 at 8:36 am

      The man did not have a gun. He was naked, didnt take his medication. His wife and kids were in the van and watched their father and husband die. Tragedy. Not the cops fault. Just a tragedy

  • Snapper December 9, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Koolaid. Still living in the basement of your moms house and doing your best to be a smart ass? Maybe it is ti,e for you to get a job and be a productive member of society. I would bet if your picture and phone number were posted with all of your stupid ass comments you wouldn’t have such a big mouth on you. Time to grow up wise ass.

    • Koolaid December 9, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      …. says the ‘SNAPPER’

    • TruthBeTold December 10, 2014 at 6:39 am

      Well put. I think he likes living off his welfare checks and support from the Bishop too much to get out and get a real job.

  • Missy December 9, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I’m pretty sure a reverse 911, telling you to secure your property, wasn’t sent out for giggles. Take the keys out of the Mercedes-Benz.

  • TOE JAM December 9, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    I left my wife in the car and when I got back she was still there but the car was gone.. Oh well I got a new car so I can’t complain to much

    • mo ferguson December 10, 2014 at 9:27 am

      So you’re saying you got a new car for your wife?…..good trade.

  • ELDER FUDD December 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Thats funny right there. LOL.. get er done

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