A man with a history of domestic violence was in the Salt Lake County Jail Tuesday because police believe he intended to shoot his estranged wife in a sniperlike attack at Brickyard Plaza.
Michael Von Ferguson, 48, was arrested Monday afternoon and booked into jail for investigation of violating a protective order and possession of a weapon by a restricted person. He was jailed following a several-hour standoff after a SWAT team surrounded the house where he was hiding.
Monday's incident began about 10:41 a.m. when a man was spotted climbing to the roof of MediaPlay, 1198 E. Brickyard Road (3200 South), in the Brickyard Plaza with a rifle in his hands and a hunting knife strapped to his side. The man was carrying a green windbreaker, and at least two witnesses thought they saw a gun under the coat. They called police.
Salt Lake City Police Lt. Rusty Isakson said he noticed the man was carrying a spool of wire. He was also carrying his coat in an odd way, Isakson said.
When Isakson asked the man what he was doing, he replied he was fixing the rain gutter. Isakson went inside MediaPlay to ask if anyone was supposed to be on the roof. The store manager said no.
By the time Isakson went back outside, the man was gone. Investigators checking the roof found a coat. Wrapped inside the coat was a 30-30 lever action rifle loaded with five rounds.
"It was loaded and ready to go," Isakson said. "One (bullet) in the chamber and four in the magazine."
Several witnesses saw the man from the roof leaving the area on a green mountain bike.
When Ferguson's estranged wife arrived at the strip mall, learned what was happening and heard a description of the man on the roof, she told investigators who she thought it might be, Salt Lake police detective Dwayne Baird said.
Officers went to Ferguson's sister's house near 2700 South and West Temple. About two hours later, Ferguson arrived at the house on a bicycle and went inside.
SWAT team members surrounded the house and ordered him to come out. At first he went to the garage and started the car in what police believe may have been a suicide attempt. But after some negotiating, Ferguson came out of the house and surrendered without incident, Baird said.
Ferguson was treated at a local hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning before being transferred to the jail.
Last week, Ferguson pleaded guilty to violating a protective order and was ordered to complete substance abuse treatment by April 14.
Ferguson's estranged wife filed a petition for a protective order Jan. 7. Since January, Ferguson has pleaded guilty to retail theft and been charged with domestic violence and intoxication. He was later arrested on a warrant for failing to show up in court on the domestic violence charge. He was released on bond two weeks ago and had an arraignment scheduled for next week.
Kim Eskelsen said he grew up with Ferguson and had known him for 30 years. "I'm just shocked," he said of Ferguson's arrest. "That doesn't sound like Mike at all."
Eskelsen described Ferguson as an avid outdoorsman who loved to hunt, fish and ride his bike.
"He's not crazy. He's just a real nice guy," he said. "I saw him last week and we chatted fish."