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Sheriff vows to catch man involved in shooting of park ranger

Published: Sunday, Nov. 21 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

MOAB — Grand County Sheriff Jim Nyland vows to catch the man who shot and injured a Utah state parks ranger Friday.

"I'm gonna catch him," Nyland said. "We know he's still there, and there's not any way out for him."

A full-scale search is set to resume Sunday morning in the hunt for the man officers say shot Utah State Parks and Recreation law enforcement officer Brody Young.

The search was scaled back to about 20 officers Saturday evening.

"(We) ran out of daylight," Nyland said.

Young, 34, was shot at least three times, in the arm, leg and stomach, after stopping a vehicle at the Poison Spider Mesa trailhead about 9 p.m. Friday.

Nyland said Young exchanged gunfire with the driver, who sped away from the scene and remains on the loose somewhere in the canyon.

Young was able to radio for help, and officers from various agencies spent the day Saturday attempting to locate the shooter.

Officials said Young remains in critical but stable condition.

Officers recovered a backpack and a rifle in the canyon during Saturday's search that involved at least 60 officers from various agencies, along with K-9 units. A bloody T-shirt officers say the man may have used as a tourniquet also was found.

The man was believed to be carrying a .40-caliber handgun and may have been shot. All campsites in the area have been evacuated.

"Everybody's trying to be careful so we don't get any of our people hurt," Nyland said Saturday, "and of course we consider this guy armed and dangerous."

Though searchers have not spotted the shooter, Nyland said there are strong indications he remains in the area.

"It's where the Colorado River goes into the canyon," he said, "so there are steep cliffs on both sides. And other than walking up the river, he doesn't have anywhere else to go."

Brody Young's stepmother, Micheline Young, said she was surprised anyone would react to him in a violent way.

"He's just not abrupt," she said. "He would never irritate someone to this point."

Brody Young and his wife, Wendy, live in Moab and have three children under age 6. He has worked for the Utah State Parks and Recreation Department for 4 1/2 years, according to Utah State Parks spokeswoman Deena Loyola.

"I think we're a little bit in shock," Loyola said. "We've never had anything like this happen. He's one of our own."

Brody Young's father, wife and at least one sister were with him at the hospital Saturday. Members of the family's LDS Church ward were helping to watch the children, Micheline Young said.

"We were told by doctors that they have an excellent team working on him, so we're just hopeful that he'll be all right," she said.

Both lovers of the outdoors, Brody and Wendy Young worked as river guides in Moab after they were married and spent countless hours exploring the area, Micheline Young said.

"They would spend every summer in that area," she said.

David Nordquist, Young's brother-in-law, said it's rare to catch Young without a smile on his face.

"He's the nicest guy you'll ever meet," Nordquist said.

Micheline Young said her stepson's job has put him in dangerous situations before, "but never alone."

"He was always part of a team," she said. "They would look out for each other."

That team of park rangers was in full force Saturday, combing cliff sides and river banks for any sign of the shooter.

"Ever since we got the call, we've been looking for this guy," Nyland said.

The man had roughly a four-hour head start on searchers, who waited until daylight to get into the canyon.

The silver Pontiac Grand Am the man was driving was found at the end of a road about 12 miles from where the shooting occurred, and footprints were located leading from the car into the canyon. The car is registered to an owner in the Salt Lake area.

Sid Groll, law enforcement director with the Utah Department of Natural Resources, said a ranger being shot is rare, though the job increasingly involves dealing with dangerous people.

"We see those things periodically, and we try and avoid those and teach our individuals how to deal with those kinds of circumstances," Groll said. "But sometimes it happens."

The trail, located south of Moab, is among Utah's best-known biking runs, with enthusiasts calling it an especially challenging but scenic loop that rises more than 1,000 feet into the surrounding countryside. It is popular to campers and hikers alike.

No access was being granted to the canyon during the search for the suspect.

Contributing: Sarah Dallof and Jared Page

e-mail: wleonard@desnews.com, jdaley@ksl.com

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