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4 nabbed after burglary, shooting

One person was shot by police and three more were taken into custody following a wild burglary, shooting and chase Friday morning that stretched over several Salt Lake City blocks.

Darnell Crawford, 19, was shot by police in the left shoulder, but his injuries were not life-threatening. He was taken to a local hospital and then booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of attempted criminal homicide, burglary, theft, possession of a stolen vehicle and obstruction of justice.

Crawford's three alleged accomplices — two men and one woman — were also booked into jail for investigation of burglary, theft and obstruction of justice.

The officer who fired his weapon is a veteran of the force and was placed on standard paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Salt Lake police detective Dwayne Baird said. The officer's name was not released.

The incident began about 9:32 a.m. when police received a 911 call about a burglary in progress at a residence near 600 South and 600 East.

Diana Colton said she looked out her bedroom window and saw a dark blue van in the parking lot behind her 700 South apartment building and several men slipping through the fence into her neighbor's backyard.

"(The neighbor's) got some loose boards in her fence. I saw two people shove something red through there," said Colton, who attends church with Lee Ann Whitaker, the woman who was burglarized. "They were running all around, but I couldn't really see their faces."

Whitaker said the "something red" was probably an old air compressor that was stored in a backyard shed, which apparently was broken into. Whitaker, who has lived in the home since 1985, was at work when the burglary occurred.

"It could have been worse," said Whitaker, who added that the experience was unsettling. At midmorning Friday, Whitaker had not yet inspected the shed or house to see what had been taken.

The alleged burglars wasted no time in trying to hock the stolen goods at Pappy's Pawn, 1480 S. State, Baird said.

Jason Rogers, a friend of the pawn shop owner, was working when the four people entered the store. When the owner refused the items, the four left, Rogers said.

Just as the group was about to pull away in the van, a Salt Lake officer responding to the burglary spotted their vehicle. The description of the van given by the witness from 700 South was so good that the officer recognized it immediately, Baird said.

As the officer approached the van from the rear, Crawford, the driver, tried to get away by throwing the car into forward and then reverse several times, hitting the cars parked on either side of him at least twice, Baird said.

Rogers said the pawn shop owner told him he could hear the officer telling the driver to "knock it off."

The officer then used pepper spray to try to stop the driver, Baird said. Crawford responded by allegedly trying to run him over, Baird said. That's when the officer fired one round, striking Crawford in the shoulder. The officer then had to dive out of the way as the van pulled away, Baird said.

"It was a heck of a ruckus here," Rogers said.

The wounded Crawford sped south on State Street and turned right onto Bryan Avenue (1560 South). As he turned, the van slammed nearly head-on into a car driven by Cesar Alcazar. The impact spun the vehicle around and into the curb, said Alcazar, who was shaken but uninjured.

After the crash, Crawford hit reverse, backed up and sped away again, heading west, said Daniel Webster, another motorist who witnessed the collision.

"I thought it was a hit-and-run, so I followed the (van) to get the plate number," said Webster, who had been northbound on State.

Police stopped the van two blocks west at the intersection of Bryan and Main. Witnesses said the van driver pulled the van over to the south side of the street and attempted to flee but was stopped by an officer who had his gun drawn.


E-mail: jdobner@desnews.com, preavy@desnews.com