ST. GEORGE — Reports of gunshots in a neighborhood just off Valley View Drive in St. George brought out numerous police officers and the SWAT team Thursday night. While police say a possible weapons offense took place, their investigation has yet to yield details of what exactly happened.
Just before 7 p.m., multiple 911 calls came in to the St. George dispatch center from people who believed they heard gunshots in the area of 1000 West just off Valley View Drive, St. George Police Officer Tiffany Atkin said.
“We responded, set up a containment of the area (and) found some evidence that maybe a weapon had been fired in that area,” Atkin said.
There were indications at the scene that police may have come across spent shell casings from fired bullets.
While a weapon may have been involved in the incident, no injuries were reported, Atkin said.
As multiple police officers responded to the scene, they focused on a home on 1000 West. At one point, multiple people were brought out of the home; two of them, a man and woman, were handcuffed and made to sit on the sidewalk.
However, Atkin said no arrests had made at the time of this report, adding that police will sometimes have to handcuff and move individuals at a scene if they are being uncooperative and disregarding police instructions.
The two were eventually taken to a police staging area in a nearby church parking lot for questioning and returned later free of the handcuffs.
During the incident, the SWAT team was called in to sweep through the home and make sure there was no one inside with a weapon. Those left inside where brought out, and the scene was secured. Once this was done, the SWAT team was released from the scene.
While there is alleged evidence of a weapons offense of some sort, Atkin said no weapons have been found thus far.
Activity around the home where the incident occurred began to wind down by 8:30 p.m., though officers remained on scene as their investigation unfolded.
Arrests connected to Thursday evening’s incident may yet take place depending on the outcome to the investigation, Atkin said.
A witness who lived nearby and preferred to remain anonymous told St. George News they called 911 after hearing the sound of six gunshots and witnessing a commotion across Valley View Drive.
“It was really close – like it amplified in our house,” the witness said. “It was very fast. It was ‘pop pop pop pop pop pop,’ and that’s how I described it to dispatch. It was ‘pop pop pop,’ but six times.”
The witness said they saw the two neighbors outside, one of whom had a weapon tied to their back.
“He started to go up toward the church. And basically what he did was he kept looking behind.”
St. George Police response was described as “quick” by the witness.
“The officer was there in less than two minutes,” the witness said. “It was amazing. Like, ‘Wow that was fast.'”
The witness said they saw a woman yelling at the officers as they approached one of the two houses.
“She was yelling as the two officers were already pretty much at their porch.”
With most people having been cooped up in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a surreal scene with several neighbors on one side of Valley View watching the police action across the way, many not necessarily keeping 6 feet apart.
The witness described the neighborhood as an area where neighbors hear commotions often.
“We have a saying around here, which is kind of understandable, that we hear this all the time, and that’s literally meaning cop sirens or ambulances,” the witness said. “We normally hear ruckus and things like that that all the time. Either I or my neighbors will call the cops. It’s like a once a week kind of thing. It’s not like we’re trailer trash or ghetto residents. It’s just people don’t really get along here.”
However, one thing the witness had never seen before was the arrival of the St. George Police SWAT team.
“Yeah, this is a first,” they said.
Next door neighbor Sidney DeWitt was inside his home giving his daughter a bath when he heard the possible shots.
“It was very scary,” he said, then echoed the other witness’ statement. “It’s not the first.”
DeWitt claimed gunshots have been heard in the neighborhood before and that there have been drug-related issues in the area in the past. However, “this is the most extreme it’s ever been,” he said.
Despite the possibility of firearms being involved, Atkin said the scene is safe and there is no threat to the public.
More information may be available as the investigation unfolds.
St. George News reporter Chris Reed contributed to this story.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.