MOAB — Searchers combed the rugged red rock terrain near Moab for a third day Monday in their hunt for a possibly armed and dangerous man they believe was involved in the shooting of a Utah park ranger.
The target of their manhunt was Lance Leeroy Arellano, 40, who officials believe may be wounded and in need of medical help after the shootout late Friday. Authorities have recovered a rifle, backpack and a tattered, bloody T-shirt while searching for Arellano over the weekend in a canyon along the Colorado River.
The ranger, Brody Young, 34, suffered injuries to an arm, leg and his stomach area, and underwent surgery over the weekend, Grand County Sheriff Jim Nyland said. A spokeswoman for St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., said Monday that Young is listed in serious condition.
The shootout occurred after Young stopped a vehicle near the Poison Spider Mesa Trail southwest of Moab near the Colorado River. The scenic trail, among Utah's best-known biking runs, rises more than 1,000 feet into the surrounding countryside.
Authorities have not yet been able to interview Young, and it remained unclear what sparked the violence.
More than 160 law enforcement officers spent the weekend searching a 15-square mile area near eastern Utah's Dead Horse State Park. Nyland has said the area's rugged terrain likely has given Arellano the "upper hand" in avoiding capture.
"He pretty much knows where we are at all times because of the number of people we have," Nyland said at a press conference.
Authorities have confiscated and searched Arellano's 1999 silver Pontiac Grand Am, which was found parked in the brush several miles south of the shooting site.
Nyland said he thinks Arellano is still in the contained search area and "there's not any possible way for him to leave the area without us knowing."
"We consider this individual armed and dangerous. As we're tracking him we have to keep that in mind — the security of the trackers — and we're having to move pretty slow," Nyland said. Arellano has a criminal history that includes assault and drug charges.
The shooting comes in the wake of the killing earlier this month of a 31-year-old game warden in Pennsylvania who was shot while trying to apprehending an armed poacher.