Vernal man arrested on weapon, drug charges after using AR-15 to shoot perceived ‘people’ living in mother’s attic crawl space

Uintah County Sheriff's Office vehicle. Photo: UCSO

VERNAL, Utah, Dec. 11, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A 58-year-old Vernal man has been booked on firearm and drug charges after deputies say his mother called to report he had shot multiple times at people living in their crawl space.

Uintah County Sheriff’s officials arrived at the residence, in the area of 600 West and 500 North, to investigate, and found multiple bullet holes in the walls and ceiling, but no evidence of anyone in the sealed crawl space.

The suspect now faces charges of:

  • Felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony
  • Reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor
  • Possession or use of a controlled substance, a class B misdemeanor
  • Use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor

Arriving deputies asked the mother and son to leave the residence without bringing any weapons, the man’s probable cause statement says.

The UCSO deputy wrote that he asked the suspect to explain what had happened, and he “told me that he could hear and see people in the crawl space. (He) told me that he had a camera inside of the crawlspace area that he can view from his phone. It should be noted that this crawlspace is actually upstairs of the residence.

The suspect said “he used his pistol and fired a few shots through the wall into the crawl space area,” adding he “only had four rounds in his handgun so then he grabbed his AR-15 rifle and fired approximately six rounds through the wall in the upstairs of the home.”

The reporting officer noted deputies had been called to the residence on similar circumstances in the past.

The suspect and his mother “were both stating that there were wounded people in the attic where (the suspect) had just shot. (The son’s) demeanor was mostly calm and collected as he was telling me that he had just shot the two people.”

Officers received permission to look for the alleged victims and “were unable to see or hear anyone in the home,” the probable cause statement says. They did find bullet holes and rifle and pistol casings on the floor.

The suspect showed the deputy “where he had fired his guns into the wall, he also showed me a live feed video of a camera that was inside of the area he had shot.” He explained he “had previously cut a hole in the wall and placed a camera into that crawlspace area so he could see the people who kept hiding from him.”

Officers saw no people in the video of the sealed-off area of the house.

There the suspect pointed out what he perceived as a weapon, “I was able to see what appeared to be a rafter,” the officer wrote.

The deputy also reported seeing two small holes that allowed some light in the area, and determined they were bullet exit holes, indicating shots had been fired toward a neighbor’s residence and a construction site. The neighbors reported they were OK, and had not noticed any property damage from a bullet, the statement says.

The neighbors told officers the suspect had “pointed a weapon at them and that they believed he struggled with mental health issues,” the statement says.

A search warrant was executed, and weapons and illegal narcotics and drug paraphernalia were confiscated. The suspect was booked into jail without bail.


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