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SHOOTING INCIDENT UNDER INVESTIGATION

SHARE SHOOTING INCIDENT UNDER INVESTIGATION

Law enforcement officials are investigating a Friday shooting that left a truck peppered with gunfire and a rookie police officer on suspension.

Grantsville reserve officer Mont Hardcastle, 22, was driving home in his personal car Friday about 5 a.m. after working the graveyard patrol when he spotted an eastbound Chevy pickup weaving erratically on the road."Our officer suspected the driver was intoxicated because of the way his truck was swerving, so he called for assistance and began pursuing the vehicle," said Grantsville City Police Chief Dan Johnson.

The pickup eventually came to a stop in Salt Lake County near the Kennecott Refinery about 15000 West and 2100 South. Hardcastle - who was not in uniform - contacted a Salt Lake County sheriff's dispatcher, then stepped out of his car to speak with the suspect.

Officials say a brief altercation took place as Hardcastle questioned the driver, who was alone in the pickup.

"At some point the suspect started to drive off and (Hard-castle) tried to reach in and grab the key out of the ignition, but without success," said sheriff's spokesman Rod Norton.

As the pickup was pulling away, Hardcastle fired several shots from his .40-caliber service handgun - riddling the driver's side door with bullet holes and blowing out a tire. The occupant was not injured.

Hardcastle detained the driver until deputies could arrive, according to Norton.

A 31-year-old Grantsville man was arrested at the scene for investigation of drunken driving and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail.

Authorities spent Friday conducting interviews and reviewing the incident. A volunteer reservist since July, Hardcastle has been placed on suspension pending the investigation by the Salt Lake County sheriff's office and Grantsville police.

The burden of the probe, said Norton, will be determining Hardcastle's intent at the time of the shooting.

"The question is whether (Hard-castle) was attempting to use deadly force or trying to disable the vehicle - right now we're leaning toward the latter," said Norton. "It looks like the officer wanted to disable the vehicle because the suspect was drunk and was a threat to other people on the road."