ST. GEORGE — Police say a man was found hiding inside of a closet in New Harmony after he attempted to flee from arresting officers Wednesday morning
Paul Rolland Atkinson, 38, of New Harmony, was apprehended at a residence after authorities found him in the closet. He initially resisted officers before being taken into custody and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility on a $20,000 warrant for failure to appear on robbery and assault charges, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Crouse told St. George News.
The foot pursuit and search stems from an arrest warrant issued July 23 by 5th District Judge John Walton after the defendant failed to appear in mental health court. He previously pleaded guilty to second-degree felony robbery and third-degree felony aggravated assault, along with six misdemeanor offenses, including one count of intentional abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, two counts of assault and one count each of criminal mischief and theft.
At 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, Washington County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at a residence in New Harmony to serve the arrest warrant, Crouse said, at which point Atkinson fled from the home on foot.
Deputies began a search of the area while K-9 units were called in to track the suspect. Soon after, Iron County Sheriff’s deputies joined in the search as it continued toward the county line. Rangers with the Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Highway Patrol troopers also joined in the search, along with Southern Utah University’s Aviation Program, which launched a helicopter to provide aerial support.
Police eventually tracked the suspect as he made his way back to New Harmony, Crouse said, where they found him in the closet.
The incident that lead to the warrant was reported Dec. 1, when officers were called to a family fight taking place at a residence on 3900 East in New Harmony. According to the probable cause statement filed in support of his arrest, the defendant became combative with family members and threatened them with a hammer. Witness statements report that Atkinson struck an elderly woman living in the home on multiple occasions.
Atkinson is also alleged to have been taking the woman’s prescriptions and that after constant threats of assaults and intimidation, she would comply and give him the pills. He allegedly admitted to the allegations while being questioned by police.
After his arrest in December, Atkinson remained in custody until his release Jan. 7.
In May, the defendant entered the guilty plea to the assault and robbery charges in exchange for a plea in abeyance, allowing the charges to be dismissed if Atkinson completes the conditions of the agreement.
Atkinson remains in custody on the $20,000 warrant at the time of this report.
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