4 courageous deputies saved lives, were justified in shooting, county attorney says
Chaotic rampage near Nephi wasn't 'going to end any other way'
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Radio traffic from chaotic rampage
911 call: 'I've just been shot at'
NEPHI — Juab County Sheriff Alden Orme revealed more details Friday about the chaotic rampage through his county by two people involved in killing a deputy and wounding another in a desperate attempt to escape.
A climatic gun battle on I-15 brought it all to an end two weeks ago on Jan. 30.
"You couldn't create a more stressful situation," Orme said.
The sheriff made his comments as Juab County Attorney Jared Eldridge announced that the actions of four deputies involved in the shootout were legally justified and they've been cleared to return to work. The deputies shot Jose Angel Garcia-Juaregui, 27, during the gun battle, and he died the next day.
Investigators say Garcia-Juaregui shot and killed Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Cory Wride in Eagle Mountain and injured sheriff's deputy Greg Sherwood in a second shooting the same afternoon. During the ensuing chase that was spread out over 50 miles through two counties, investigators believe Garcia-Juaregui fired at least 10 times at four different locations — including firing at random motorists — as a 17-year-old girl drove.
Garcia-Juaregui also carjacked a woman and her young daughter.
The deputies' actions in stopping and killing the gunman were described as couragous and heroic, but Eldridge refused to identify the deputies because he said he wanted to protect them.
Investigators, however, did release 911 calls, police radio recordings and dash-cam video from the deputies' vehicles from the Jan. 30 incident.
The videos before the final shootout show deputies pursuing Garcia-Juaregui and the teenage driver through a heavy snowstorm south on I-15 just past Exit 222 south of Nephi. Not long after the fleeing vehicle's tires were spiked by Utah Highway Patrol troopers, the stolen SUV crossed through the median and drove into oncoming traffic. The driver then appears to intentionally hit an oncoming minivan.
As soon as the minivan was hit, Garcia-Juaregui jumped out and made "a dead sprint to that vehicle," Orme said, in an attempt to steal it. Deputies yelled at the motorist to keep driving as they ran toward the suspect, knowing he had already shot two officers.
Eldridge called the video "hair-raising."
"These men (deputies) did not hesitate even for an instant. They got out of their vehicles, they charged right into the face of danger. This man was pointing a gun at them and shooting, without even hesitation," he said.
"They did exactly what we would hope officers would do in this situation. They demonstrated extraordinary valor and courage. I take my hat off to them. As I watch these videos, all I can say is that I'm awestruck at the courage they showed."
Orme concurred: "You can see from the dash-cam footage there was no hesitation. They knew they had to take the steps they needed to take to prevent further injury to anyone. It is such a dynamic situation with citizens' lives at risk.
"Heavy traffic, heavy snowstorm. They know the risks. They know that there's shots fired. And every one of them advanced and did what they needed to bring an end to the situation," the sheriff said of his deputies.
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