Utah park ranger shot, suspect hunted

Brody Young

A Utah park ranger was in critical condition Saturday after he was shot three to four times Friday night by an unknown man west of Moab.

The Grand County, Utah, Sheriff’s Department was pursuing a suspect in a box canyon west of Moab throughout the day Saturday, Utah Parks spokeswoman Deena Loyola said, until the manhunt was scaled back Saturday night because of darkness.

Park Ranger Brody Young, 34, was patrolling the Poison Spider Mesa Trail when a man driving a silver Pontiac Grand Am shot him in the chest, abdomen, leg and arm with a handgun, Loyola said.

Young is recovering at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

“He is critical but stable and expected to pull through,” Loyola said. “Obviously, he’s had more than a serious trauma, and it’s going to take a while for him to recover. He was extremely lucky.”

With the aid of about 100 law enforcement officers, FBI and SWAT team members from several nearby towns and counties, police spent much of Saturday cornering the man in a box canyon about eight miles west of where Young was shot, Loyola said.

The shooting occurred about 8:40 p.m. Friday. That’s when Young, a four-year veteran of the Park Service, used his radio to call for help after exchanging gunfire with the man, she said.

Loyola said authorities don’t yet know what sparked the shooting.

“They are in a dead-end canyon, so they feel like they were closing in on the suspect,” she said Saturday afternoon. By late Saturday, however, the man was still at-large.

A few hours after the shooting, a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter crew spotted the suspect’s car, which is where police concentrated their search, according to a Grand County Sheriff’s Department statement.

Grand County Sheriff James Nyland told The Associated Press that officers tracked the man’s footprints toward the Colorado River about 22 miles southwest of Moab, where they located a rifle and backpack. Nyland said officers also found a bloody T-shirt, indicating the suspect was bleeding badly from his confrontation with Young.

SWAT teams had been using river boats provided by the National Park Service to check the banks of the river, the department said in the statement.

According to The Associated Press, officers stayed on the scene overnight Friday, but did not search because it was too dark. Officers did the same thing Saturday night and are to continue their search at daylight today.


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