Suspect arrested in St. George on warrant for allegedly setting fire to business in Salt Lake City

ST. GEORGE — A suspect wanted on a first-degree felony warrant out of Salt Lake City for drugs and setting fire to a building was arrested by police officers in St. George early Tuesday morning.

Adam Gary Nish, 44, was arrested by officers in St. George early Tuesday morning and was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility where he is being held on a first-degree felony warrant out of Salt Lake City.

The warrant was issued on a 2019 case filed in July following a fire that was reported at a business near 2700 South State Street in South Salt Lake City on the morning of July 15 that caused more than $100,000 in damage, according to charging documents filed with 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City.

While fire crews battled the blaze police officers spoke to a witness who identified Nish as the individual responsible for setting the fire. Shortly before the blaze was reported, several witnesses at the scene told officers that Nish entered the business “and demanded to borrow a car;” and when told no, the report states, the suspect became upset and left the building.

Security cameras located outside of the business captured the suspect as he walked behind the building to an area that was clearly not open to the public.

Adam Gary Nish, 44, of Salt Lake City, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 16, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Attorney’s Office, St. George News

The suspect then entered a refrigerated storage unit and minutes later, he was seen exiting the unit. Within 12 minutes of his exit, the unit went up in flames.

The footage also showed Nish who remained in the area but made no visible attempt to summon help, and according to the statement, Nish fled only after he was located and confronted by police.

The suspect continued to physically resist as authorities worked to detain him.

The suspect was taken into custody and searched, which is when officers recovered a package containing a substance consistent with methamphetamine that subsequently tested positive during a field test.

During the arrest, the suspect told officers that he swallowed some narcotics and “demanded he be taken to the hospital rather than to jail,” the officer noted.

While at the hospital, the suspect attempted to escape from police custody when he forced his way past a nurse and the paramedics and ran down the hallway where he was tackled by officers and then transported to Salt Lake County Jail.

During an interview, the suspect told officers he became upset when the business refused to loan him a vehicle, and admitted to trespassing by entering the refrigeration unit. He said he “accidentally” set the fire but had no answer as to why he failed to call for help when the fire broke out.

Referring to the narcotics found on his person prior to being transported to jail, the suspect allegedly bragged to the officers “that he was a drug dealer and sells narcotics to support himself,” the officer noted in the report.

He was booked into jail facing second-degree felony arson and possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance as well as a third-degree felony charge for escape from official custody. He also faced interfering with an arrest, failing to stop at the command of law enforcement and criminal trespass, each a misdemeanor.

When the charges were filed a week later, the drug charge was enhanced to a first-degree felony and the felony arson charge was reduced to a misdemeanor reckless burn offense while all other charges remained as submitted.

The warrant he was arrested for early Tuesday morning was issued on Jan. 12 when the suspect failed to appear in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City for a scheduled hearing.

At the time of the 2019 arrest, the suspect was on probation for a 2017 aggravated assault case involving an incident report in March of that year when officers were called out to an office building in Salt Lake City after a man called 911 reporting that a suspect, later identified as Nish, attempted to hit him with a metal pipe when the caller interrupted an alleged car burglary.

The caller told police he was working in his office when from his window he could see that his truck door was open and the window broken out, and when he ran outside he reported seeing a suspect smash through a car window using a large metal pipe.

When the businessman confronted the suspect, the report states, Nish allegedly lunged at him and threatened him while swinging the pipe, which is when the reporting party walked away and called police.

The caller also reported that when he went back outside after calling 911, he noticed that Nish was “tearing everything out of his truck,” the officer wrote.

At the scene, officers spoke to three more witnesses and each gave a similar account. One witness reported seeing the suspect breaking into several cars by smashing the windows, and when confronted, the suspect allegedly went after the man and threatened him.

The suspect was located and arrested a short time later and during an interview with police, the suspect refused to answer any questions and was booked into Salt Lake County Jail on four felony charges, including two counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal mischief and possession of a firearm.

He later pleaded guilty to the charges and was ordered to serve 210 days in jail and placed on 36-months probation.

Following Tuesday’s arrest, Nish remains in custody on $5,000 bail.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!