ST. GEORGE — A LaVerkin man is in jail following multiple threats of violence made against city employees and police officers over the phone and in-person.
According to a probable cause statement, Justin Lloyd McNeel, 39, made violent threats against LaVerkin city employees and specific police officers. In one instance he was armed with a firearm that, while later found to be a CO2-powered BB-gun, looked indistinguishable from a real semiautomatic pistol.
One of the incidents involving McNeel occurred Wednesday around 9 a.m. when a city public works employee recognized him from a previous incident while McNeel was walking dogs in a city park. A week prior, McNeel had been confrontational and threatening to another public works employee, plus the city and police department in general.
“After confronting the employee, Justin entered his vehicle and drove away across the grass and caused the back end of the vehicle to turn rapidly and spin out, damaging the grass in the park,” according to the probable cause statement.
The public works employee at the park approach McNeel about the damage to the grass, and he admitted to driving on it. McNeel again threatened the city employee, city proper and police department while also waving around a handgun that had the hammer cocked.
“Justin left the park but continued to make threatening statements towards La Verkin Police Department officers, which could be heard from two blocks away,” according to the probable cause statement.
Around 9:45 a.m. Friday, McNeel called LaVerkin City Hall and said he had grievances with the city and police department and named specific officers. He further stated he was going to go to the city hall at 1 p.m. and would “take care of business.”
“Due to the prior statements made, city employees believed that Justin was intending to come to city hall and commit an act of violence,” the probable cause statement reads. “The city employees present in the building were afraid for their lives, and city hall was placed into a lockdown status. In addition, the employees were sent home and all city operations were stopped due to the threat.”
McNeel was found by a LaVerkin Police officer soon after in his car and was commanded to step out of his vehicle. Instead, he was verbally hostile to the officer and attempted to antagonize him. McNeel tried to drive away at one point but was stopped and eventually stepped out of his car after the officer gave orders to do so, according to the probable cause statement.
After being taken into custody, McNeel told police he had the confrontation with the city public works employee and had planned to go to LaVerkin City Hall that day. The gun he had, which was in the car, was also found to be a BB-gun instead of a real firearm.
McNeel continued to make threats against the police and told the officer he couldn’t wait until he had people behind him to “take you guys down.” He also stated he would harm the police officer and others, whom he mentioned by name, if given the chance.
According to the charges originally placed on the probable cause statement, McNeel is facing a felony charge of making a false alarm – warning of a fire, bomb or other crime, along with various misdemeanors for electronic harassment, interfering with an arresting officer, violating a protective order and possessing a deadly weapon with intent to assault.
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