Suspect in custody after hourslong standoff in Washington City

ST. GEORGE — A standoff between law enforcement officials and a wanted man ended after nearly eight hours Tuesday night with the suspect’s surrender near midnight.

Tactical officers arrive on scene at a standoff between law enforcement and a wanted felon at the apartments at 20 North Red Trail Lane, Washington City, Utah, March 16, 2021 | Photo by Rich Allen, St. George News

Just before 3 p.m., Augustus James Cole, 33, was allegedly driving erratically and pointing a gun at bystanders near 20 North Red Trail lane in Washington City. Upon police arrival, he fled first by vehicle then by foot into a neighboring apartment complex. He barricaded himself inside his second-story apartment overlooking Telegraph Road and the standoff began, according to a press release issued by Barry Golding of the Washington County Critical Incident Task Force. Residents of the complex were evacuated. At 11:52 p.m., Cole surrendered and was taken into custody.

Over the course of the standoff, Cole communicated with officers, refusing to come into police custody, disclosing what weapons he had — at least a .45-caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun, according to the statement.

He also put signs up in the window of the apartment with writing on them. At one point, one sign said, “This will be over in 30 min OR…” followed by the next sign that said, “I will take my own life.” That sequence of signs was presented before 4 p.m., with what turned out to be approximately seven hours remaining in the standoff.

Just before 4:30 p.m., the patrol officers from Washington City were relieved by Washington County Metro SWAT officers.

Around 9:20 p.m., according to the statement, a law enforcement sniper saw Cole pointing a gun at officers from a window. A SWAT team member shot Cole in the abdomen. Cole was treated for his injury before being booked.

Augustus James Cole, 33, booking photo posted March 17, 2021 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Police say roughly two and a half hours later he surrendered peacefully. He was charged with 11 felony offenses with six counts of aggravated assault, failure to stop or respond at command of police, possession of a controlled substance, two counts possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and violation of a protective order.

SWAT personnel used tear gas and an explosive to breach Cole’s barricaded front door. Hurricane Police, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Washington City Fire also responded to the incident. Utah Highway Patrol and Gold Cross Ambulance appeared momentarily on scene in the early stages of the standoff.

Cole’s wife reportedly assisted officers with identifying Cole and describing the layout of the apartment.

Cole had a warrant out for his arrest for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, a second-degree felony. He was previously charged on Jan. 22 with nine offenses, five of which were felonies pertaining to possession and distribution of controlled substances. The arresting officer reportedly found meth, oxycodone, Diazepam, Clonazepam and Alprazolam in that incident.

According to Tuesday’s arrest report, he was also convicted for possession of firearms by a restricted person in 2016.

No other injuries were reported in the incident.

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

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