Police: ‘Unusual’ behavior of witness at domestic disturbance call leads to his arrest

Composite image with background photo by Ofc Picture/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — An Ivins man who was initially considered as a witness to a domestic disturbance call was arrested Saturday after the suspect’s “unusual” behavior prompted officers to run a check on the man, which is when they found six outstanding warrants for his arrest.

On Saturday shortly after 10:30 p.m., an officer was dispatched to a family fight near south River Road. Police arrived to find a black Ford Explorer pulling out of a parking stall located in close proximity to where the disturbance was reportedly taking place. 

The officer stopped the Ford and asked the driver if they could ask him some questions about the disturbance taking place inside of the home. The officer noted in charging documents that he made it clear to the driver that he was only a witness to the incident and was not suspected of any crime.  

The officer said that during the exchange, the man, later identified as 26-year-old Hayden Austin, of Ivins, continued “fidgeting and behaving very unusual” and “appeared to be in a hurry to leave.” 

The driver allegedly identified himself as John Austin and provided a birth date, prompting police to verify the driver’s identity through a records check. 

Meanwhile, a K-9 unit arrived at the residence and began sniffing around the outside of the vehicle. The dog gave a positive indication to the possible presence of narcotics, according to the report, and during a search of the car, officers reportedly recovered what appeared to be heroin, drug paraphernalia and raw marijuana. 

Officers also found a driver’s license for the vehicle’s owner under the name of Hayden Austin that contained a photo that matched the driver. 

After verifying the information with emergency dispatch, police were able to positively identify Austin, who had six active warrants for his arrest. The suspect was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility on the active warrants. 

Hayden Michael Austin, 26, of Ivins, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, June 14, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

He also faces one third-degree felony count of possession of a controlled substance, as well as three misdemeanor offenses, including possession/dispensing of a controlled substance and paraphernalia, along with giving false personal information with intent to be another actual person. 

The warrants were issued on multiple cases, one dating back as far as 2016 that involved an arrest in March of that year where the suspect admittedly broke into a concession stand and took $360 from a lock box at Sand Hollow State Park. He later pleaded guilty to third-degree felony burglary, and a $5,000 warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear in court for a review hearing. 

He was also wanted on a warrant involving an incident reported January 2017 at Albertsons grocery store on Dixie Drive, where witnesses told police that a suspect snatched a woman’s purse from a shopping basket and attempted to run from the store. 

The man’s escape was interrupted, however, when bystanders were able to tackle him to the ground, where they held him until police arrived.

Two days later, Austin admittedly took a gaming system from a residence where he was staying, which he later sold at a local pawn shop. A $10,000 warrant was issued for his arrest in February of this year after he failed to appear for a review hearing in that case. 

Another warrant involved a 2018 case where the suspect was seen running from a convenience store after officers noticed he appeared to be involved in an illegal drug sale. Officers found him at a nearby motel and arrested him for an active warrant for absconding from drug court, as well as for possession of a controlled substance and obstruction of justice. 

And one of the active warrants involved a drug case from September 2019, when officers responded to a  motel room where officers found heroin and paraphernalia during a search of the room. Austin was released into a residential substance abuse treatment program the following month. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he left treatment early.

The defendant is scheduled to make an initial appearance in 5th District Court on Tuesday and remains in custody on $41,950 bail.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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