Nearly a dozen Salt Lake police officers stormed the downtown offices of a prominent defense attorney Thursday to capture a suspect in a fatal shooting at a Heber City apartment last weekend.
Jason T. Westergard, 30, was consulting with attorney Ron Yengich when the squadron of officers, acting on a tip from the Wasatch County attorney about Westergard's whereabouts, arrived with an arrest warrant.Westergard was arrested for investigation of first-degree murder, a first-degree felony; tampering with evidence, a second-degree felony; and tampering with a witness and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, both third-degree felonies.
He is being held in the Wasatch County Jail on $1 million bond.
Police believed the man to be dangerous. The warrant, issued Wednesday, says Westergard has made public statements about an "intent to `shoot it out' with police and that `once he starts killing, he is going down the list' of intended victims."
William J. Miller, 30, Vernal, was shot at short range with a .45 caliber handgun about 10:40 p.m. Saturday in Heber City. Miller was taken to Wasatch County Medical Center and later flown by helicopter to LDS Hospital. He died Sunday.
Yengich frowns on the warrant's characterization of his client, insisting Westergard planned to surrender immediately after considering his legal options. He said his office spoke with Wasatch County law officials moments before to verify a warrant had been issued.
"Apparently, a sergeant with Salt Lake City Police Department overreacted," Yengich said about the sudden surge of police officers into his offices.
At the attorney's urging, all but two officers left the scene before the suspect was taken into custody.
Yengich said Westergard's mother called him Thursday, concerned about possible charges against her son. He was retained as counsel after the short interview.
Heber Police Chief Ed Rhoades said six people, including the victim, were in the apartment at the time of the shooting. No other arrests have been made in connection with Miller's death.
Police say in the warrant that Westergard was seen holding a handgun moments before a shot was fired and told a woman who was in another room to falsely tell police that Miller had taken the gun from a bedroom.
Rhoades said Westergard was always considered a suspect but could not make an arrest before conducting a thorough investigation. He did not give a possible motive for the shooting.
Deseret News staff writer Tanya Smith contributed to this report.