SPANISH FORK (AP) – A man accused of killing one Utah deputy and wounding another was a fugitive who previously served 4 1/2 years in prison for attempted homicide, authorities said Friday.
Jose Angel Garcia Juaregui, 27, is in extremely critical condition after being shot by law enforcement officials Thursday afternoon in Juab County, and his prognosis isn’t good, Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said at a news conference.
The Salt Lake County man is suspected of opening fire on a two-lane highway, then clashing with officers during a 50-mile chase that ended with him wounded and arrested.
The officer who was killed, Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride, was shot while sitting behind the wheel of his police vehicle. He leaves behind a wife and five children.
Wride had pulled up to a truck that appeared disabled near the town of Eagle Mountain, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City. He spoke with the suspect and apparently was using his computer to do a background check when the truck’s back window slid open and the suspect opened fire, the sheriff said.
The gunman shot and injured a second Utah County deputy near Santaquin, more than 30 miles into the chase, Tracy said. That deputy remained in critical condition Friday with a head wound, but he is expected to recover, the sheriff said.
The gunman took off again, driving south on Interstate 15, but he crashed his car and hijacked another at gunpoint, Tracy said.
The man shot at other motorists who unwittingly stopped to help him, but he didn’t hit any of them, the sheriff said.
The suspect was captured near Nephi after a 20-mile chase and a gunfight with Juab County deputies.
Krista Black, manager of the Maverick convenience store and gas station on the rural highway where Wride was killed, said her husband slowed to check on a disabled car he believes was the suspect’s about 10 minutes before the shooting.
Her husband didn’t get out of his car to help because no one appeared to be in the other car. He instead drove on.
“It makes you nervous about who is out there,” Black told The Associated Press. “My husband always stops to help people.”
The sheriff said Wride was a 19-year veteran of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Wride leaves behind a “really close family,” his cousin Blaine Wride told The Salt Lake Tribune. “They’re always involved with each other.”
The deputy and his wife had built a house on a section of his grandfather’s farm in the community of Benjamin, and owned horses and a few cows. Cory Wride also was active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“He was a good man,” Tracy said, according to KSL-TV. “He was a very helpful person. And that’s what he was doing, helping people, when he was shot.”
Authorities were searching the suspect’s house in Salt Lake County with a warrant, and a prosecutor told the AP he will face multiple felony charges.
Acting Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor said he was certain to file one charge of aggravated murder, with the possibility of the death penalty, and one or more counts of attempted aggravated murder for shooting at other officers.
He also likely faces a charge of aggravated robbery for the carjacking and another charge for evading police, Taylor said.
The circumstances of Wride’s death are similar to those in the last police killing in Utah. In September, Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson arrived to help with a vehicle he thought had broken down. He was shot before he left his police vehicle.
Foy reported from Salt Lake City.