By PAUL FOY, Associated Press
SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy was shot to death and another was wounded as a man with a rifle opened fire along a two-lane Utah highway and then clashed with officers during a 50-mile chase that ended with the suspect being wounded and arrested, authorities said.
“Evil ran through Utah County today,” Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy said in a televised news conference late Thursday in Spanish Fork, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Tracy was expected to identify the suspect and detail his criminal history at a press conference Friday morning. He said the man was arrested in neighboring Juab County after crashing a car and trading fire with other officers.
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The suspect was critically wounded in the gunfight. His condition was unknown.
Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon said later that a second person had been arrested in connection to the shooting, but he declined to provide any details, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
The officer who was killed, Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride, “never had a chance to get out of his car,” Tracy said.
Wride had pulled up to a car that appeared disabled near Eagle Mountain when he was ambushed around 1 p.m. Thursday, the sheriff said.
Eagle Mountain is a town about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Krista Black, manager of the Maverick convenience store and gas station on the rural highway where the shooting happened, said her husband slowed down to check on a disabled car he believes was the suspect’s about 10 minutes before the shooting occurred.
Her husband didn’t get out of his car to help because no one appeared to be in the other car. He instead drove on.
“It makes you nervous about who is out there,” Black told The Associated Press. “My husband always stops to help people.”
The gunman shot and injured a second Utah County deputy near Santaquin, more than 30 miles into the chase, Tracy said. That deputy, who wasn’t identified, was expected to recover from a head wound, the sheriff said.
The gunman took off again, driving south on Interstate 15, but he crashed his car and hijacked another at gunpoint, Tracy said.
The man shot at other motorists who unwittingly stopped to help him, but he didn’t hit any of them, the sheriff said.
The suspect was captured about 20 miles later after a gunfight with Juab County deputies at the end of the chase near Nephi.
Nephi is a town about 75 miles south of Salt Lake City.
The sheriff said Wride was a 19-year veteran of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and leaves behind a wife and five children.
“They’re a really close family,” Blaine Wride, the slain deputy’s cousin, told The Salt Lake Tribune. “They’re always involved with each other.”
The deputy and his wife had built a house on a section of his grandfather’s farm in the community of Benjamin and owned horses and a few cows.
Cory Wride was also active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“He was a good man. He was a very helpful person. And that’s what he was doing, helping people, when he was shot,” the sheriff said, according to KSL-TV.
Authorities were searching the suspect’s house in Salt Lake County with a warrant, and a prosecutor told The Associated Press he will face multiple felony charges.
Acting Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor said he was certain to file one charge of aggravated murder, with the possibility of the death penalty, and one or more counts of attempted aggravated murder for shooting at other officers.
He also likely faces a charge of aggravated robbery for the carjacking and another charge for evading police, Taylor said.
Taylor declined to identify the suspect and said he hadn’t learned the extent of his criminal history. He said the man may have been prohibited from possessing a gun and could also face a firearms charge.
The circumstances of Wride’s death are similar to those in the last police killing in Utah. In September, Draper Police Sgt. Derek Johnson arrived to help with a vehicle he thought had broken down. He was shot before he left his police vehicle.
Foy reported from Salt Lake City.
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