Update: 17-year-old suspect in Payson sledgehammer attack taken into custody

Law enforcement officials from Payson and multiple other city and county agencies responded to the scene of a sledgehammer attack on a resident and an assault on staffers and children at a daycare facility on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

PAYSON, Utah, Aug. 15, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Payson Police Department has taken a juvenile suspect into custody after a sledgehammer attack on a man and the subsequent punching of six to seven preschoolers Friday morning.

“The suspect has been taken into custody,” said a news release from PPD Saturday at 9 a.m. “The suspect is 17 years of age and has been booked into Slate Canyon Youth Detention as of Aug. 15 at 5 a.m. As the suspect is a juvenile we will not be releasing his name.”

After a series of leads provided by the public, investigators were able to identify the suspect, the news release said. At approximately 4 a.m. he chose to turn himself in to the police department, and was taken into custody without further incident.

The suspect was booked on the following charges: attempted aggravated murder, two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated child abuse, two counts of child abuse, burglary of a dwelling, obstruction of justice, two charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. 

“At present the victim is in the ICU in critical condition,” the Saturday news release said. 

A previous statement on the Payson PD Facebook page said: “Payson Police officers were dispatched to a disturbance in the area of 600 E. 500 North. A woman exited her home and witnessed an adult male striking her neighbor about the body and head with a sledgehammer. The woman called out to the suspect to stop.

“The suspect then turned his attention to her, and walked toward her home, which is a daycare facility. The suspect proceeded to strike the children and another adult with his fists, and then fled the area. The male is still at large. The children are receiving medical treatment for various injuries.”

Sgt. Noemi Sandoval, Payson Police Department, said at a subsequent news conference that six to seven preschool-aged children suffered superficial injuries, and their parents were with them.

The male neighbor was transported by air to a hospital, then to a second hospital, Sandoval said. He was in critical condition.

It is unknown whether the suspect was known to the man attacked with a sledgehammer, Sandoval said.

A shelter in place order was put in place immediately after the incident, then lifted later in the afternoon.

Sandoval said many enforcement agencies in Utah County responded to help, as did several agencies from Salt Lake and Juab counties.

On Friday, police released video surveillance footage of the suspect, dressed in black, as he quickly walked by on the sidewalk.

The news release Saturday morning added: “Payson Police Department would like to extend our sincere gratitude toward all the surrounding law enforcement agencies that responded and assisted in the investigation of this incident. We would equally like to extend our gratitude to citizens who aided the investigations by reviewing home video surveillance and relayed any information they felt might aid in finding the suspect in this case.

“Payson Police continues to send our thoughts to the victims impacted by this senseless act of violence perpetrated against them.”

Gephardt Daily will update this developing story as more information becomes available.


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