La Verkin man arrested after allegedly threatening city employees, police department

Justin Lloyd McNeel. Photo: Washington County Sheriff's Office

LA VERKIN, Utah, Sept. 27, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A La Verkin man was arrested Friday and is facing multiple charges relating to violation of a protective order and threats he allegedly made against La Verkin City employees, including police officers.

According to a probable cause statement filed in 5th District Court in St. George, officers responded to a report of a threat phoned in to the La Verkin city offices by a man who identified himself as Justin McNeel.

Officers located Justin Lloyd McNeel, 39, at the home of his mother, who has had an active protective order against him since 2018.

In the probable cause statement filed on Friday, the arresting officer wrote that on Wednesday morning, Sept. 23, an employee of the La Verkin Public Works Department saw someone, later identified as McNeel, walking two dogs in the grassy area of the city park.

McNeel matched the description of a person who had confronted a Public Works employee about a week earlier.

“In the earlier incident, Justin had become confrontational, making threatening statements towards the City of La Verkin, as well as towards La Verkin Police Department,” the probable cause statement says.

“After confronting the employee, Justin entered his vehicle and drove away, across the grass, and caused the back end of the vehicle to turn rapidly and spin out, damaging the grass in the park,” the document states.

A different employee approached McNeel to speak to him about the damage to the grass, and McNeel again made threatening statements toward the city and the police department, according to the document.

“The employee stated that Justin was holding a firearm in his hand, and that the hammer was cocked. Justin was speaking very emphatically, and was waving the gun around in his hand,” the document says.

On Friday morning, La Verkin City Hall received a phone call from McNeel, who said he had grievances against the city and the police department and named specific officers, the probable cause statement says.

“Justin stated that at 1:00 PM (1300 hours) he was going to come to City Hall and ‘take care of business,'” which led the employees to believe he intended to come to City Hall and commit an act of violence, according to the statement.

The City Hall was placed on lockdown, the employees were sent home, and all city operations were stopped because of the threat.

Officers made contact with McNeel at his mother’s residence, where his presence is prohibited by the protective order, the probable cause statement says.

He was seated in his vehicle with the engine running, “and was verbally hostile, cursing at me, yelling loudly, and attempting to antagonize me,” the arresting officer wrote.

According to the statement, McNeel refused to comply with the officer’s orders to get out of the vehicle until the officer repeated the order several times.

McNeel confirmed “that he had confronted a La Verkin City employee while holding a weapon,” and he “also confirmed that he was intending to go to La Verkin City Hall that day and confirmed that there was a replica firearm in the vehicle,” the officer wrote.

The replica firearm was located and was a CO2-powered BB gun, but was styled to be indistinguishable from a semi-automatic firearm, according to the document.

McNeel was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on the following charges:

  • Violation of protective order, a class A misdemeanor
  • Making a false alarm – warn of fire, bomb, other crime, a third-degree felony
  • Possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault, a class A misdemeanor
  • Interference with arresting office, a class B misdemeanor
  • Electronic communication harassment, a class B misdemeanor


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