Suspect in ranger shooting hunted
The hunt continued for the man suspected of shooting a Utah park ranger, who remained in critical condition Sunday at St. Mary’s Hospital.
Family and friends said they were “cautiously optimistic” that Brody Young, 34, will recover from the gunshot wounds to his abdomen, leg and arm, said Deena Loyola, spokeswoman for Utah State Parks and Recreation.
Lance Leeroy Arellano, 40, of Sanpete County, Utah, has been named a person of interest in the case by the Grand County, Utah, Sheriff’s Department. Arellano is described as 6 feet 1 inch tall, 165 pounds.
Arellano has a criminal history that includes assault, drug offenses and theft.
Young was wounded about 8:40 p.m. Friday at the Poison Spider Mesa trail head in Dead Horse Point State Park, which is about 10 miles southwest of Moab.
More than 165 law enforcement officers, including state and federal officers, searched for the suspect Sunday on the ground and from the air using three helicopters, Grand County Sheriff James Nyland said.
The Sheriff’s Department also had search teams check railroad freight cars between the shooting area and the Intrepid Potash Plant near Moab, Nyland added.
The area where the shooting occurred had been contained, and authorities expanded the search area Sunday, he said.
On Saturday, authorities tracked the suspect’s footprints in a canyon along the Colorado River, recovering his rifle, a backpack and a tattered, bloody T-shirt. Nyland said authorities still believe the man is armed and dangerous.
The backpack contained canned goods and an empty holster believed to have held a .40-caliber handgun.
Little information has been released about the suspect because the investigation is ongoing, Nyland said.
On Friday night, Young stopped a vehicle at the trail head, and gunfire was exchanged between him and the driver, Loyola said. It was not clear what sparked the violence, and Nyland said authorities have not yet been able to interview Young.
The car believed used by the suspect, a silver Pontiac Grand Am, was to be searched Sunday. Arellano is the owner.
Access to areas near the Poison Spider Mesa trail are closed or restricted, but Dead Horse Point State Park is open, Loyola said.
Young is a four-year member of the Utah park service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.