While most neighborhoods participating in National Night Out only heard their local law enforcement officers speak, a few Fairpark residents got an up-close lesson in how crime scenes are handled.
About 40 people - including several officers from the Salt Lake Police Department - were gathered at LaDawn McNeal's home at 1151 Simondi Ave. (340 North) for festivities Tuesday when at about 8:30 p.m., two vehicles came speeding up the street.One vehicle began ramming the other in what looked like an attempt to force it off the road, witnesses said. Both vehicles stopped, and a man got out of one car, pulled an ax handle out of his trunk and made his way toward the other car, a Salt Lake Police Department spokesman said. A police officer chased the man down before he reached the occupants of the other vehicle.
Other units arrived on the scene to help. The disruption ended up lasting several hours.
The intrusion occurred just a few minutes after "McGruff the Crime Dog" left the party. Police officers had just arrived to talk with neighbors about how to create a safe neighborhood.
As the the cars recklessly headed up the street, some at the gathering joked that perhaps the incident was a set-up, event hostess McNeal said.
"We all just kind of looked at each other and said, `We think they took the wrong turn.' Then we looked at the officer and said, `Do you want to take care of this?' " McNeal said. "It was interesting to see how quickly police respond."
As it turns out, one of the drivers was attempting to chase down his wife, who was riding in the other vehicle. She had apparently left her husband a few days earlier, angering him, police said. While neighbors looked on, the man was arrested for investigation of domestic violence and reckless driving.
The woman was also arrested for investigation of possession of drug paraphernalia, according to police. Both were later released.