MAPLETON — A Springville man was arrested and his female passenger, an adult family member, was recovering from a gunshot wound after police say he led several agencies on an on-again, off-again chase throughout Utah County Sunday.
During the incident the man was fired upon by police in two locations when he attempted to run over officers with his vehicle, officials say.
Michael Charles Rankin, 40, had several encounters with law enforcement Sunday, including fleeing from a Mapleton officer who attempted to pull him over and later driving away from a sheriff's deputy who approached the Rankin's car as he was parked on the side of the road in Payson Canyon, said Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon.
Mapleton officers suspended their pursuit that began at 10:18 a.m. Sunday, but Utah County sheriff's deputies pursued Rankin after he fled from them in Payson Canyon a little after 11 a.m., Cannon said. That chase traveled through Payson, Spanish Fork and into Springville and involved officers from Springville, Spanish Fork and Mapleton.
Cannon said a Springville officer fired at Rankin's vehicle about 11:45 a.m. when he attempted to run down officers deploying spikes near 1400 North and West Frontage Road in Springville. Police believe it was at this time that the woman in the car with Rankinwas was hit by a bullet fired by police, though her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.
Rankin was able to elude police shortly after the shooting, but was located — by his cellphone signal — in Springville near 940 North and 600 East about an hour later. Police say they spotted Rankin's car, which was unoccupied. But a short time later, Rankin and his passenger got back in the car and again were pursued by officers, including being tracked by a Utah County sheriff's airplane, Cannon said.
Police encountered Rankin behind a building in Spanish Fork about 1:08 p.m. and, the man allegedly again attempted to hit a police officer with his car. Cannon said that officer, from Spanish Fork, also fired shots at Rankin's car and, just moments later, the suspect stopped his vehicle, raised his hands and surrendered to police.
The sergeant said the injured passenger was speaking and lucid when police found her in the car with Rankin, who did not sustain any injuries, and was transported to a hospital for treatment. He said police were not sure late Sunday what her role was in the incident.
"We don’t know what her level of involvement might have been in this," Cannon said. "We don’t know if she was an active part, whether she was there against her will. We don’t know that yet."
He added that Rankin was "not unknown to law enforcement" and had been arrested a half-dozen or so times, including three or four times in the last month. Rankin made threats against Springville police in an interaction in September, threatening to "attack an officer with a knife," according to Cannon.
Rankin had a valid driver's license and no outstanding warrants, and police were not immediately sure why he fled from officers. Police did not find any weapons on Rankin or in his vehicle when he was arrested.3 comments on this story
Rankin was booked into the Utah County Jail for investigation of five counts of failure to respond to officer's signal to stop, four counts of reckless driving, expired registration, no proof of insurance and speeding. Cannon said prosecutors could also file potential charges related to the alleged attempts to hit officers with his vehicle.
No officers where injured in any of the encounters with Rankin on Sunday, he said.
The Utah County Attorney's Office will be leading an investigation concerning the officer-involved shootings and the individual agencies involved will also be conducting their own internal investigations.