VERNAL — Emergency dispatch recordings released Friday by the Uintah County Attorney's Office prove what law enforcers have known for years: There is no such thing as a routine call.
The recordings, which were obtained by the Deseret News and KSL-TV through a public records request, detail Uintah County sheriff's deputy Mike Lourenco's March 8 encounter with Dallas A. Rowley.
At about 8:45 p.m., Lourenco spotted Rowley's Chevy Suburban parked on the side of Red Wash Road about 20 miles south of Vernal near an intersection with state Route 45. The deputy said he stopped to check on Rowley's welfare.
"I did not activate my emergency equipment because my intentions were to ensure that the occupant of the vehicle was OK and did not need assistance," Lourenco wrote in his initial report on the incident, which was also released through a records request.
Lourenco said he could smell alcohol on Rowley's breath and that he spotted a small pistol on the floorboard below the front passenger seat. He asked Rowley to exit the sport-utility vehicle, but the 66-year-old man said, "he had to go" and drove away, the deputy wrote.
Lourenco got back in his patrol truck, turned on his emergency lights and chased after Rowley. The pursuit was short and strange, sheriff's records show, with Rowley pulling over and driving away several times, and even reversing direction.
"Control, Sierra 20," Lourenco can be heard saying in the dispatch recordings, using his radio call sign.
"He's stopped again just short of SR-45 — and, he's taking off again," Lourenco says.
"Mike, was there a conversation about the gun, or did you just see it?" another deputy asks, referring to the pistol on the floorboard.
"Yeah, there was a conversation about the gun. I asked him whose it was. He said it was his. He was out target shooting. When I asked him to step out of the car, that's when he took off," Lourenco replies in a calm voice.
"Thank you, do you know who he is?" the other deputy asks.
"He's an old guy," Lourenco answers.
Four seconds later, Lourenco screams into his radio: "Shots fired! Shots fired! Shots fired!"
Several seconds later, he repeats the words "shots fired" two more times through ragged breaths.
"You alright," a deputy asks?
"I'm alright," Lourenco replies. "Some rounds through the glass. I've got a flat tire. I've got to terminate" the chase.
Investigators say Rowley stopped his SUV in a manner that allowed him to remain in the driver's seat of the Suburban and fire 19 shots from an AR-15 rifle at the pursuing deputy's patrol truck.
A sheriff's detective said he examined the truck after the shooting and found at least 10 places where bullets struck the vehicle.
"The general grouping of the bullet impacts are on the driver side," the detective wrote in an affidavit used to secure a warrant for Rowley's arrest. "Three bullet holes are in the windshield in a pattern that would have hit deputy Lourenco in the chest, neck or head if he had remained in an upright, seated position."
Lourenco escaped serious injury by laying across the passenger seat and putting the truck in reverse when he saw Rowley pointing a rifle at him, the charges state. The deputy did, however, sustain some shrapnel wounds, the sheriff's department confirmed Friday.
"When I started driving in reverse I recall hearing gunshots and could hear my vehicle being struck by rounds of ammunition," Lourenco wrote in his report. "I could feel glass shards falling onto my person."
After the shooting, Rowley drove off into a rugged area known as The Book Cliffs, touching off a two-day manhunt that ended when he surrendered March 10 near the White River to Uintah County Sheriff Jeff Merrell.
Rowley is charged in 8th District Court with attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, and failure to respond to an officer's command to stop, a third-degree felony. He remains in the Uintah County Jail, where he is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
On Wednesday, defense attorney Clint Hendricks asked a judge to order a competency exam for Rowley. A review hearing is scheduled for April 24.
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