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Utah man now faces 49 felonies in series of shootings

Joshua Benjamin Williams
Joshua Benjamin Williams
Salt Lake County Jail

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A West Valley man charged with 34 felonies earlier this week for allegedly firing numerous shots during a standoff with police was charged with even more felonies Friday in connection with an incident that happened prior to the standoff.

In total, Joshua Benjamin Williams now faces 49 felonies, including 41 counts of illegal discharge of a firearm.

On April 11, Williams stayed the night at an acquaintance's house in Cottonwood Heights near 6500 South and 2600 East. But the next morning he entered a bedroom "making statements about how there was a green light on him and they were after him," according to charging documents.

Williams, 36, set up a barricade in the house and then held the woman who lives there at gunpoint, the charges state. She was held against her will for 12 to 18 hours, police say. At one point, she attempted to escape after Williams had fallen asleep by climbing over the barricade.

Williams woke up, however, and fired 11 shots, according to charging documents. The woman was able to escape when her dog bit Williams.

For that incident, Williams was charged Friday in 3rd District Court with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary, both first-degree felonies; possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony; 11 counts of discharge of a firearm and aggravated assault, third-degree felonies.

Five days later, on April 16, while Unified police were looking for Williams in the Magna area, they got a call from employees at a Burger King, 8443 W. Main, regarding a man who locked himself in the restroom and refused to leave even though the restaurant was closed.

When officers arrived and opened the bathroom door to look inside, Williams pointed a gun at them from about 5 feet away, according to charging documents.

"Gun, gun, gun!" an officer yelled as they shut the door.

As the officers were evacuating the restaurant, two shots were heard, according to charging documents. The glass door shattered and another shot went through a window. Police stated that Williams was shooting "blindly" through the bathroom door.

A SWAT team was called and surrounded the restaurant. During the ensuing six-hour standoff, more shots were fired out of the restaurant. Tear gas was eventually used to take Williams into custody, police say.. No officers fired a shot. Inside the bathroom, investigators collected 30 shell casings.

When interviewed by investigators, Williams said he was hiding in the bathroom because the "cartel" was after him, according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

For that incident, Williams was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with three counts of assault on a police officer and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, second-degree felonies; and 30 counts of illegal discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony.

Williams was convicted in October of theft by receiving stolen property. In another case, he was convicted of possession of a firearm by a restricted person and sentenced to six months in jail, according to court records.