A man who police believe was "recklessly endangering lives" after firing several shots just 300 yards from I-15 was arrested Tuesday following a two-hour standoff.
There were no injuries in the incident between the 34-year-old man and a slew of law-enforcement officials..The ordeal began when neighbors heard "multiple rounds that sounded as if it came from an automatic weapon" just after 7 p.m. in a sparsely populated area of northeast Bluffdale, said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Potter.
Officials responding to the scene - about one mile south of the Utah State Prison - evacuated the few families surrounding the man's home at 15400 S. Pony Express Road (15-250 West). Several children were in the area at the time of the shooting, Potter said.
After SWAT teams covertly secured perimeters and established close-range surveillance, they waited about two hours before attempting to talk to the man by phone. He came out of his house a few times "and gave us a couple of California hellos (obscene gestures)," Potter said, indicating that the suspect knew officers were around.
Then just after 9 p.m., a group of tactical officers ordered the man to drop his weapons as they entered the residence and took him into custody. The man surrendered peacefully.
He was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of disorderly conduct, unlawful discharge of a firearm and public intoxication, Potter said. Officers found a .22-caliber rifle and 9mm handgun inside the home.
A second man, identified as a transient, was also found inside the home. He was not arrested, said Potter.
Before the arrest was made, Potter told reporters the biggest concern to officers and bystanders was the man's "propensity for firearms. And we don't know what state of mind he's in, either.
"This is the same guy who called a radio station back in 1994 and said he had a bus load of kids and a bomb and threatened to blow it up." The bomb scare was a hoax.
Potter said the man has been jailed on weapons offenses and officers believed automatic weapons and high-powered rifles were inside the man's home.
"The public was put into danger here and we weren't going to take chances," he said. "You've got the freeway over there, and juveniles and kids running around. This was an intense public safety situation."
Potter said the incident reminded him of an accidental shooting four years ago about 21/2 miles from the man's house, where a 19-year-old man was shot in the head while he was fishing on the Jordan River Narrows.
Russell M. Maggard died March 2, 1992, from a single gunshot wound to the head after two teens shooting at targets near 14600 South and 1300 West fired at Maggard, mistaking him for an owl, Potter said.
The 17-year-old who fired the shot pleaded guilty to negligent homicide.
"That's how a bullet can travel in this area, that fast and that far," Potter said. "And that's how dangerous it can be."