MOAB — After four days of thoroughly searching Moab's backcountry, investigators have decided to "change the direction of the search," for a man charged with aggravated attempted murder.
Lance Arellano was charged Tuesday in 7th District Court with trying to kill state parks and recreation ranger Brody Young, 34, according to the Grand County Sheriff's office. Young received at least three gunshot wounds and remains in serious condition at a Colorado hospital. A warrant has been issued for Arellano's arrest.
Grand County Sheriff Jim Nyland said at a press conference Tuesday evening that SWAT teams will be on call, and deputies will be set up around the perimeter, but the foot patrols that have marked the past four days of the manhunt will be discontinued.
"Until we get another lead, there's no reason to have that many people in that area," Nyland said. "We're not stopping searching for the suspect. We're just altering our operation somewhat."
Searchers Tuesday focused a lot of their efforts in the Caveman Ranch area off Potash Road just outside of Moab. They looked around large boulders, in cracks and gullies in the landscape and also into some caves and overhangs in the area.
Nyland said it's possible Arellano may still be in the backcountry. He also said it's possible Arellano may have slipped through the perimeter or may have died.
"We have a lot of suspicions of what occurred. ... He could have died out in the backcountry," Nyland said. "I don't think he's reached any populated area. ... We just don't know."
Nyland said weather conditions impacted some of the search, but to this point investigators have made every effort possible.
"We used every resource that was available to us. We just couldn't locate the individual," he said.
Nearby hospitals have been notified to be on the lookout for Arellano, who is believed to have been shot in the leg during Friday's gunfight.
Nyland said everyone involved in the search is disappointed. More than 150 law enforcement officers responded to Moab after the shooting, and it's disappointing that the operations are being scaled back.
"They're upset. Everbody out there wanted to locate this individual," Nyland said.
Many of those on the search teams have come from areas throughout the state. Kane County Sheriff Lamont Smith said when he heard Nyland needed help, he didn't hesitate.
"We didn't think about it for a second," Smith said. "They needed our help, and we got there as fast as we could."
Smith knows what one of these searches is like.
This past August, Kane County sheriff's deputy Brian Harris was shot and killed chasing a burglary suspect. The manhunt for the shooter lasted four days in the desert outside Kanab and Fredonia, Ariz.
"This past year has hurt us. It's been a bad year for law enforcement agencies throughout the state," Smith said. "We've lost too many good people. I'd like to just start this year all over, if we could."
Moab's mayor says the community is looking forward to having Young back and will support him anyway they can.2 comments on this story
"This community, it never ceases to amaze me," said Mayor David Sakrison. "We come together, even though it's a diverse community as you well know, but we do come together and this is one of the events that has brought the community together."
A fund for Young has been set up at any Wells Fargo bank branch. There are also blood drives being organized in the Moab community for him.
"Brody is a great guy," Sakrison said. "This has really affected our small town. It's all over town. You can go anywhere and it's the topic of conversation right now."