Utah School Resource Officer Fires Weapon into Car Full of Teenagers

A Utah school resource officer fired his weapon into a car full of teenagers in West Valley City after the teen driver accelerated his vehicle into the officer.

Situation escalated

The resource officer of a West Valley City high school was patrolling the surrounding neighborhood when he spotted a car full of boys who looked to be high school age. As he approached the car, possibly to check to see if the boys were ditching class, the officer could smell marijuana coming from the vehicle. He continued to advance toward the vehicle when the car suddenly lurched forward and hit the officer, sending him onto the hood of the vehicle. It was at that point the school resource officer chose to fire his weapon into the car full of teens, critically injuring the young driver.

Split second decisions

While the teenage driver fights for his life in the hospital, the passengers who have been identified as two students and a (possibly young) “adult” are being located and questioned in the incident. As the investigation continues, some Utah residents are questioning whether or not the officer’s use of potential deadly force was justified. Although a vehicle can be considered a deadly weapon when used to hurt someone- is that what happened? Was the teen trying to run the officer over with his vehicle or did he become startled and react by pressing the accelerator? Did the officer truly fear for his life when the car lunged forward or did he become startled and react by reaching for his firearm? Another concern from residents is whether or not the situation was dire enough for the officer, who is trained to protect students, to put the vehicle’s passengers in danger.

Teen behavior around law enforcement

Whether it is determined that the officer’s actions were justified or that his actions were extreme for the circumstances, there is still a teen who is left with life threatening injuries. As tension continues to grow between the general public and law enforcement, teens should be taught to always refrain from drastic or aggressive actions towards police for the sake of their own safety. If disagreements or concerns arise during police questioning or an arrest, it is best for teens to handle themselves in a calm manner and request the accompaniment of an attorney.

Teenager Attempts to Set off Bomb at Utah High School

Among the hundreds of teens threatening violence towards their schools over the last few weeks with five of those threats happening in Utah, one teen from southern Utah actually attempted to set off a bomb at a high school.

No warning

Photo by: Michael Rael

While many of the threats around the state and nation have been dismissed as teens wanting their spot in the limelight, one teen in southern Utah didn’t take to social media to gain attention from his peers by making a public threat-he carried out an unexpected attack that luckily didn’t work. The juvenile that hasn’t been named due to his age placed a backpack containing a homemade bomb and shrapnel in a busy lunchroom at Pine View High School in St. George. Fortunately for the possibly hundreds of students in the lunchroom at the time, the bomb malfunctioned. Another student noticed smoke coming from the bag and notified a teacher and school resource officer who removed the bomb and evacuated the school.

Criminal charges

Utah Code 76-10-402 states “A person who . . . intentionally or knowingly manufactures, possesses, sells, delivers, displays, uses, attempts to use, solicits the use of, or conspires to use a weapon of mass destruction or a delivery system for a weapon of mass destruction . . . is guilty of a first degree felony.” Due to the seriousness of the charges, the teen could face adult charges for attempting to bomb a school. He is also facing charges for vandalizing another Utah school and putting up an ISIS flag as it was determined during the investigation that he was likewise responsible for that.

Mental health for youth

Photo by: Boudewijn Berends

There is little information about the boy who attempted to bomb Pine View High School but from those that knew him, this act of terrorism came as a complete surprise. Assumptions are being made that the teen suffered from mental illnesses and along with criminal charges, many hope he receives the psychological help he needs.

Knife Wielding Utah Teen Charged With Aggravated Assault after Defending Sibling

A knife wielding Eagle Mountain Utah teenager was charged with aggravated assault after defending his younger sibling from abuse.

Violence for violence

The 16 year old teen who has not been named due to his age was placed into a juvenile detention center after he stabbed his 18 year old brother five times with a knife. The younger teen was trying to intervene to defend his 14 year old sister from their older brother, Steven Johnston, after an argument between the girl and Johnston escalated. Reports state that Johnston began physically assaulting the 14 year old girl when the 16 year old brother came to her aid, using a knife to wound the 18 year old sibling and thereby ceasing the assault on the younger sister.

Charges for both brothers

18 year old Johnston was flown to the hospital to be treated for his wounds and upon his release, will face misdemeanor charges for assaulting his younger sister. Meanwhile, the 16 year old brother is facing felony aggravated assault for using a knife to defend his sister against their older sibling. According to Utah Code 76-5-103, “Aggravated assault in an actor’s conduct that is:
i. an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; ( . . . )
ii. a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
iii. an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes bodily injury to another or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another; and
that includes the use of:
i. a dangerous weapon ( . . . );
iii. other means or force likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.”

No criminal intent

More than likely, the teen did not have plans on assaulting his older brother with a knife that day. In the heat of the moment however, it may have been difficult for him to think of anything other than protecting his sister from harm. It is difficult to ask anyone, especially a minor, to think and act rationally in stressful situations. In hindsight, the teen may have been able to stop the abuse from the 18 year old brother without using a weapon. There is also the chance the abuse could have continued to escalate, further jeopardizing the safety of the little sister. The 16 year old Utah teen chose to ensure the safety of his sister, and may now face up to 15 years in prison. Any minors who are facing charges following a rash decision during a stressful situation or after defending another person from harm, contact a juvenile defense attorney to discuss the defense options related to the case.

Out of State Teen Arrested For Intent to Distribute $25K Worth of Drugs

An out of state teen visiting Utah from Oregon was caught with $25K worth of drugs with the intent to distribute them.

Bringing the party with him

19 year old Sean McDonald from Bend, Oregon was pulled over after police spotted him driving his motor vehicle on a walking path. When officers stopped McDonald to speak to him, they saw three juvenile passengers in the car in possession of cigarettes and also observed a strong odor of marijuana. This prompted officers to search the car where they found $25k worth of various drugs including marijuana, LSD, cocaine, and illegal or prescription pills the teen had brought with him to Utah with the intent to distribute them at the annual Festival of Colors.

Intent to distribute

Utah Code 58-37-8 states “it is unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally (. . . ) possess a controlled or counterfeit substance with intent to distribute.” The criminal charges for intent to distribute depend on what type of illegal substance the person arrested was in possession of. According to the Utah County Jail bookings page, McDonald was arrested and charged with four first degree felonies for possession of LSD, cocaine, and ecstasy with the intent to distribute. He also is facing two second degree felonies for intent to distribute marijuana and prescription drugs.

Wait, there’s more…

On top of the intent to distribute charges, McDonald is also facing three third degree felonies for endangering a minor because of the juveniles in his car as well as two misdemeanors and a traffic violation. That brings his running total of criminal charges to nine felonies, two misdemeanors, and one traffic violation. His bail was set at double the amount he expected to make selling the drugs in his possession. The juveniles in the car that were also from Oregon faced possession charges as well but not intent to distribute as McDonald was the only one determined to be selling the drugs.

Do you know where your teen is?

It is important for parents to know where their teens are at all times and not always assume they are where they said they would be, or even the same state. Teens who have passed the ripe old age of 18 should remember that they will forever be considered adults, and should act as such especially in the company of minors. For more information on drugs charges for old and young teens, contact a criminal defense attorney that also specializes in juvenile defense.

Third Degree Felony for Theft of Watercraft

A 19 year old in Utah is facing a third degree felony for the theft or possession of stolen watercraft or outboard motor.

Shopping in the off season

Theft
Photo by: Robbie Sproule

19 year old Dillon Anthony Smith of Hurricane, Utah was booked into the Weber County Jail on multiple charges including two each of: criminal mischief; fail(ure) to appear on citation; and theft or vessel/motor in possession with reason to believe stolen. His total bail was posted at $14,250. It is not known what the 19 year old was doing so far away from home or why he would have a stolen watercraft or outboard motor on him in the month of February.

Theft

A person can be charged with theft if they physically took property that didn’t belong to them, received stolen property, or found property that was lost and didn’t return it. The theft of any property can result in criminal charges and the penalties are usually based on the value of the item(s). Utah Code 76-6-412 states that:

• Theft of property valued under $500 is punishable as a class B misdemeanor;

• Theft of property valued between $500 and $1,500 is punishable as a class A misdemeanor;

• Theft of property valued between $1,500 and$5,000 is punishable as a third degree felony; and

• Theft of property valued above $5,000 is a second degree felony.

Specialty theft items

Photo by: Mark Moz
Photo by: Mark Moz

The value of the watercraft of outboard motor that was stolen or possessed illegally was not noted; however whether it was worth $5,000 or $50, it wouldn’t have mattered. There are some items that may have a determined value, but have a set penalty depending on the type of property stolen.

• If the item stolen is a firearm, it is a second degree felony;

• If a horse, cow, sheep, goat, pig, poultry, or “fur-bearing animal raised for commercial purposes” is stolen, it is a third degree felony unless valued above $5,000;

• A stolen vehicle that is operable is punishable as a second degree felony;

• In the case of a stolen watercraft or outboard motor, the penalty is a third degree felony.

Prison term for theft of watercraft

Photo Courtesy of: Weber County Sheriff's Office
Photo Courtesy of: Weber County Sheriff’s Office

Smith is facing at least two third degree felonies which carry a possible prison term of zero to five years in prison each. Since he is over the age of 18, he will face his charges in the adult court system. A defendant who may have the mentality of a teenager with the physical age of an adult would benefit greatly by a criminal defense attorney who handles adult cases, but also is experienced in dealing with teens who may need more guidance in the judicial proceedings. Anyone in this situation is encouraged to seek such counsel.