SALT LAKE CITY — A man who went on a 20-minute rampage, armed with a knife and gun, Tuesday in downtown Salt Lake is lucky to be alive, according to Salt Lake police.
And he owes it all to a group of people he never met.
"They saved his life. There was no de-escalation to this. He's lucky he wasn't shot," said Salt Lake police detective Robert Ungricht. "He pointed his gun at our officers."
On Tuesday, police arrested Eddie C. Sanchez, 45, after officers say he threatened several people, carjacked two vehicles, tried to break into an apartment, and then pointed a gun at police — all within a three-block area.
Investigators believe the same man was responsible for a carjacking in Helena, Montana, on Sunday. In that incident, Sanchez took a 67-year-old Texas man's vehicle as the man was checking out of a hotel. The man was taken to a hospital with undisclosed injuries.
Sanchez is believed to have then driven to Salt Lake City and pulled into the parking lot of a business near 320 E. 900 South about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday.
"He comes flying in at a high rate of speed and goes right into a parking stall," Ungricht said. "The manager comes out and taps on the glass to see if he's OK, and the individual pulls a knife on the manager."
The manager backed away, and Sanchez ran off, hopping over a fence, Ungricht said.
Sanchez ran to a woman who was either getting in or out of her Volvo and carjacked her vehicle at gunpoint, police said. Sanchez drove the car just around the corner and stopped at an Audi dealership at 999 S. State.
Sanchez saw a new 2018 Audi being washed and took the car at gunpoint, Ungricht said. He then drove to Mark Miller Toyota, 730 S. West Temple, got out, and tried to break into a nearby apartment, Ungricht said.
The occupant of the apartment did not let Sanchez in. As he was walking away from the apartment, he was confronted by a Salt Lake police officer who had his weapon drawn.
Following a brief foot chase, "the guy points the gun at our officers," Ungricht said.
"Our officer has a long gun, a shotgun. But there are a lot of people behind (Sanchez). So the officer didn't feel comfortable shooting," he said.
If not for the bystanders, the officer would have fired, Ungricht said.
Moments later, after several officers confronted him, Sanchez threw his gun into the street. No one was injured.
"We really got lucky on this one," Ungricht said.
The entire scenario happened very quickly, he said. Officers listening on their police radios were even having a hard time following it.
"We couldn't even keep up with it," he said.
Investigators attempted to interview Sanchez, but "from their observation, he must have been on something," Ungricht said. "They could not get a coherent interview out of him."
Among other things, Sanchez told police his eyes were melting, Ungricht said.
Sanchez was placed in a holding cell until mid-morning Wednesday and not officially booked into the Salt Lake County Jail. People who are suspected of being too drunk or intoxicated to be admitted to jail typically are kept in a holding cell until they can be taken into the jail's general population.
When he was eventually booked, Sanchez was put into the the jail for investigation of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated robbery, assault on a police officer and having another person's bank card, as well as being a fugitive.
Contributing: Associated Press