WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, April 3, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A driver is in custody after an early morning pursuit that police say began with burglaries and ended only after police deployed spike strips, the driver rammed officers’ cars, and officials finally stopped the tireless car as it attempted to continue its wrong-way, slow-speed escape on a busy roadway.
The suspect had been under surveillance after police say his car was spotted at several crime scenes.
“Over the course of the last several weeks we’ve had some businesses broken into in West Valley City where they’d taken quite a bit, several hundred thousand dollars actually, in merchandise from one particular business,” Lt. Todd Gray, West Valley City Police, said at the scene.
“Through the course of the investigation we identified a suspect vehicle and one suspect who was believed to be driving that vehicle that was used in some of the burglaries.”
Overnight, officers observed the vehicle, with a male driver and a male and female passenger, driving through several neighborhoods in the West Valley City and Taylorsville area, “where they appeared to be casing homes and vehicles,” Gray said. “At one point, we observed them commit a couple of vehicle burglaries at some homes at which point we decided we needed to take these people into custody.”
The driver was listed as a parole fugitive for firearms possession, Gray said, “and we could not take a chance to let him continue to being out on the streets. He was a liability.”
Officers followed the vehicle for several minutes while developing an arrest plan and deploying spike strips ahead “as we believed the suspect could potentially flee from us.”
The spikes were laid near 5600 West and 3300 South, but were not successful in flattening the vehicle’s tires. Police gave pursuit, and more spikes were laid, and flattened all four tires, Gray said.
“He continued westbound on 35th, out through the Magna area, at about 25 miles an hour, and then over to 201 Freeway, at which time he started traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of the 201 Freeway.”
Police terminated the pursuit out of fear for the public’s safety, Gray said, but then Utah Highway Patrol officials reinitiated it since the suspect continued to pose a public threat with wrong-way driving.
“A couple of UHP troopers moved in behind the vehicle, attempted several PIT maneuvers on the vehicle, which were unsuccessful,” Gray said. “The driver accelerated and struck the UHP troopers and one Unified Police vehicle, intentionally.”
Not long after, a highway stop was conducted, and the vehicle cooperated and were taken into custody without further incident, Gray said.
“There was numerous officers involved, there was no officers injured, there was no property damage to any citizen vehicles, just the suspect vehicle, and some flat tires to a couple police cars.”
Likely new charges for the driver, identified as Kenneth Dunn, include burglary, evading, and aggravated assault on police officers, Gray said. It was unknown what charges the passengers would face. Gray did not share details on their possible involvement in the burglary.
“We’re glad we could get them off the street, the way the driver was continuing to travel down the middle of the 201 freeway with no regard for safety of the the public was very scary for us. We wanted to get him off the street.”
Dunn had two passengers in his car, later identified as Juan Pedro Rocha, 51, and Linda Margaret Tassone, 34. Each was charged with burglary of a vehicle, a third-degree felony.
Dunn is being held on existing charges. New charges against Dunn have not yet been filed.