Sheriff: suspect in high-speed chase might be a white supremacist
The man who led the authorities on a high-speed chase through the West Side of Summit County on Tuesday had not been captured by Friday morning even as investigators continue to develop leads in the case.
Sheriff Dave Edmunds said investigators are considering whether the man is a white supremacist. He said the man has tattoos on his head and neck that might be those displayed by white supremacists. He did not provide details.
The vehicle, a Nissan Maxima, was found in Salt Lake City later on Tuesday. Sheriff Dave Edmunds said the vehicle had been reported stolen in South Salt Lake sometime before the chase in Summit County.
Edmunds said investigators searched the vehicle for fingerprints or DNA. Any that is found would be sent to the state crime lab for processing, Edmunds said, indicating the Sheriff’s Office is "looking for any trace evidence."
The sheriff said a surveillance camera might have recorded the suspect in South Salt Lake at a convenience store at about the time the vehicle was stolen. Edmunds said investigators have reviewed the surveillance footage but have not concluded whether the person in the footage is the same man who led the police on the chase.
Edmunds said he hopes to make public either still images or video taken from the surveillance camera. He did not provide a precise timeline for the release of images or video.
"It’s extremely important," Edmunds said about the investigation. "This is a dangerous criminal in my mind."
The sheriff said he suspects the man is either a parolee or on probation.
The chase unfolded during the morning commute and involved roads both inside and outside the Park City limits. The Sheriff’s Office has said a deputy attempted to pull the driver over on eastbound Interstate 80 just west of the U.S. 40 interchange after seeing the vehicle passing another one on the shoulder of the highway.
The driver did not stop, starting the police pursuit. The driver led the authorities on a chase that involved streets including Old Ranch Road, Highland Drive, Ute Boulevard and S.R. 224. The driver entered the Park City limits, where police officers picked up the pursuit, and then exited the city on S.R. 224. The Sheriff’s Office said the driver reached toward approximately 95 mph along S.R. 224.
The Utah Highway Patrol pursued the driver on Interstate 80 into Salt Lake City. The driver exited the interstate at Foothill Drive and Salt Lake City police did not pick up the pursuit, the Sheriff’s Office said.
"He was reckless, extremely reckless, and irresponsible," Edmunds said, explaining that the driver moved into oncoming traffic during the pursuit.
The Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop the vehicle using strips of tire spikes, but the driver either went around them or deputies were unable to put them down in time.
"This guy was willing to do anything to get away . . . This guy was desperate," the sheriff said.
Phil Kirk, a Park City police captain, said the driver sideswiped an oncoming vehicle on S.R. 224 inside the city limits. An ambulance crew treated the driver of the sideswiped vehicle for undisclosed injuries at the scene and then released the person, Kirk said. Police officers were positioned at intersections along the route to stop cross traffic if they needed to, he said.
People with information about the case may contact the Sheriff’s Office at 435-615-3500 or the office’s tip line, 1-800-828-8477.
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Park City enacted a ban on fireworks, open flames and burning on Wednesday, a step that was anticipated as Park City continues to suffer through sweltering temperatures and a lengthy stretch of dry weather. It had seemed highly likely that City Hall would implement the measures.