SPANISH FORK — Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy called it an "evil run" through his county Thursday, "a horrific set of events."
One sheriff's sergeant was killed, a deputy was hospitalized in critical condition, a vehicle was carjacked, gunfire erupted at four scenes along a 50-mile stretch over two counties, and a suspected gunman was critically injured after being shot by police.
Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride, who was beginning his 20th year with the department, was ambushed while attempting to help someone he thought was a stranded motorist.
Sheriff's deputy Greg Sherwood was injured and remained in critical condition Thursday night following surgery at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.
The gunman was in critical condition after he was shot by deputies south of Nephi. His name was not released, but Tracy said he has a "significant" criminal history. A search warrant was being executed on the man's house Thursday night in an effort to understand why he went on such a destructive rampage.
"We don't have any idea what the motive is here," Sheriff Tracy said, adding that the possibility the gunman was waiting for an officer to stop just so he could shoot him was being investigated.
"It's my personal belief that that was the case. He may very well have parked along the side of the road hoping that some officer might stop behind him. We really don't have any idea what the motive is," Tracy said.
About 1 p.m., Wride approached a vehicle he found parked along the side of state Route 73 in Eagle Mountain.
"All he indicated was he was stopping behind a vehicle to do a motorist assist," Tracy said.
That was the last radio contact dispatchers had with the sergeant.
Before Wride even got out of his car, he was shot and killed — possibly with a high-powered rifle, Tracy said.
"It appears Sgt. Wride was ambushed at that time, and he was shot in the vehicle, and he did not survive his wounds," the sheriff said.
Other deputies drove by to check on him when he stopped answering his radio, and they discovered his body.
A second shooting happened about 2:50 p.m. near Main and Center streets in Santaquin, where Sherwood spotted the suspect's vehicle. A high-speed chase ensued, and the suspect fired at Sherwood just seconds later while they were driving.
"That second deputy received a head wound and is currently in surgery," Tracy said late Thursday afternoon.
He said Sherwood's prognosis was good.
A 50-mile crime scene
The gunman apparently travelled more than 40 miles between the site where he shot Wride in Eagle Mountain and his run-in with Sherwood in Santaquin. From there, he continued south.
"We're trying to get our arms around all of this," Tracy said. "We've got four scenes spread across 50 miles. We've got multiple agencies and two counties involved."
Shots were then fired in Nephi, where the gunman crashed his vehicle and then tried to carjack another. He made several attempts before shots were again fired and he took someone else's car, Tracy said. No one was injured in that shooting.
The gunman again took to southbound I-15 and another high-speed chase ensued. That ended south of Nephi about 3:20 p.m., where the man lost control of the vehicle, crossed the median and northbound lanes and crashed into a fence.
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