Parolee arrested following tussle with St. George Police officers in grocery store parking lot

In this 2020 file photo St. George Police Officers respond to apartment complex off Dixie Drive in St. George, Utah, May 29, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News,

ST. GEORGE — Officers responding to a suspicious person report at a local grocery store on Monday arrested a parolee after a brief struggle, one that resulted in two of the officers and the arrestee being treated for minor injuries when the ambulance crew arrived.

Ezra Loyal Kunz, 30, of Leeds, booking photo taken in Washington County , Utah, March 1, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

On Monday afternoon, officers were dispatched to Smith’s Marketplace on Mall Drive on a report of a suspicious person involving a man who appeared to be using a slim jim lockpicking device to get into a vehicle shortly after 1 p.m., according to charging documents filed with the court.

The reporting party provided a physical description of both the man and the vehicle that was possibly being broken into in the parking lot and, according to the statement, officers were updated by dispatch while en route that the suspect was inside the car. Officers arrived and found inside the car two men who provided their information to police, which is when, the report states, authorities discovered an active warrant issued by the Board of Pardons on the suspect sitting in the passenger’s seat, Ezra Loyal Kunz, 30, of Leeds.

Police say as the suspect was being handcuffed, officers removed a small pocketknife from the man’s pocket, but as they did so, Kunz began to struggle and move away from the officer and would not comply with either officer’s commands. A third officer arrived to assist with the arrest while the suspect allegedly became more combative; and even with the additional officer on hand, attempts to handcuff the man were unsuccessful. Kunz was eventually taken to the ground so that officers could secure him in handcuffs.

Once there, police say the suspect began kicking in the direction of the officers and was moving his head around in a way that it appeared he was attempting to hit the officers. The report also states that during the struggle, one of the officer’s body cameras was knocked off; after several minutes, officers were able to secure him in handcuffs and restrain his legs while an ambulance was called to the scene.

According to the report, the suspect and two of the officers were treated by medical personnel for minor injuries sustained during the arrest and Kunz was then transported to St. George Regional Medical Center for an evaluation.

During a search of the car, the report says officers located a large hunting knife with a 6-inch blade under the seat where the suspect was sitting when the first officers arrived.

With only two individuals near the vehicle, the officer wrote, “it was suspected the knife belonged to Ezra.”

Once he was cleared from the hospital Kunz was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing one count of resisting arrest, three counts of assault on police officer and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, each a misdemeanor.

The warrant issued by the Board of Pardons relates to a case filed in December 2015 in Washington City where a GMC pickup truck was stolen from the driveway of a residence. The truck was being worked on at the time and was not running properly due to a bad alternator, officers noted in charging documents filed with the court.

In this 2014 file photo Ezra Kunz was booked into jail in Washington County on Nov. 30, 2014 | File photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

One week later, the truck was located in the parking lot of a motel on 1000 East in St. George and appeared to have been abandoned. Both doors were unlocked and the keys were still in the ignition when officers recovered the vehicle.

Through the course of the investigation, the report says officers learned after the truck was returned to the owner that a new alternator had been installed after it was stolen.

The owner called Napa Auto Parts on St. George Boulevard and learned that an alternator had been ordered and delivered to a tow yard a few miles away, the report states. When the owner went to the tow yard he found out that the new alternator was installed in the parking lot by a man identified as Kunz who told employees he “was fixing up the truck for someone,” according to the report.

With the suspect’s whereabouts unknown at the time a second-degree felony theft charge was filed and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Six months later Kunz was arrested. On Oct. 3, 2016, he was sentenced to serve up to 15 years in Utah State Prison.

Following his release, he was arrested in January 2018 for vehicle burglary, criminal trespass and interfering with an arresting officer, charges he pleaded guilty to two weeks later and he was sentenced to serve a year in jail and placed on probation, according to the report.

The suspect was also arrested and charged with second-degree felony for possession of methamphetamine and a number of misdemeanor charges in a 2014 case filed in December that same year and one that was covered by St. George News.

Following the incident on Monday the suspect remains in custody on $5,000 bail.

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.

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