Salt Lake City man, Ogden woman arrested in connection to Provo protest shooting
Utah County Sheriff’s Office courtesy photo of 33-year-old Jesse Keller Taggart of Salt Lake City on June 30, 2020.
Utah County Sheriff’s Office courtesy photo of 27-year-old Samantha Darling of Ogden on June 30, 2020.
Officers with the Provo City Police Department arrested two individuals Tuesday after reports of shots fired during protests in Provo on Monday evening.
According to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests, officers received reports at around 8:45 p.m. Monday of shots fired. The shooting was reported to have occurred in the area of Center Street and University Avenue in Provo where two protests were taking place.
Demonstrators protesting police brutality had moved into the intersection, blocking traffic, and a white SUV was proceeding southbound on University and attempting to turn right onto Center Street when a confrontation ensued. During the confrontation, a man brandished a firearm and fired rounds into the vehicle, striking the driver.
The driver, who changed course and accelerated through protesters while continuing south on University in an attempt to escape, was admitted to the emergency room at the Utah Valley Hospital with injuries consistent to a gunshot wound to the arm and shrapnel in his eye and stomach, according to arrest documents.
The man with the firearm chased after the vehicle, firing a second round through the rear window, which was found lodged in the steering wheel. Several witnesses recording with their cell phones at the time of the shooting, contacted the Provo City Police Department and provided the video evidence to police.
The man continued to walk with the protesters until another vehicle — a maroon Dodge Durango with a single female driver — attempted to drive through the line of demonstrators. At that time, the male suspect brandished the handgun once more, punching the driver’s side window with the muzzle of the firearm.
Cellphone video footage shows the man breaking the driver’s side window with the handgun as the female driver continued through protesters to safety, according to the probable cause affidavit. The man and another female were recorded blocking intersections with a vehicle and their bodies.
The male shooting suspect was identified as 33-year-old Jesse Keller Taggart of Salt Lake City, and the female suspect was identified as 27-year-old Samantha Darling of Ogden.
Witnesses recorded Taggart speaking with Darling as she drove a gray Mazda with protesters, blocking traffic in the process. Taggart allegedly called Darling by her first name as she was driving with the protesters, and additional video shows Taggart and Darling participating in the protests together outside of the vehicle, according to arrest documents.
Authorities were unable to detain Taggart and Darling at the scene but were able to identify the license plate on the Mazda, which was registered to Darling.
Video footage shows Taggart meeting with Darling at her vehicle at Center Street. The pair entered the vehicle and left the scene.
Taggart and Darling refused to speak with officers at the time of their arrest.
Taggart was taken into custody under the suspicion of first-degree felony attempted aggravated murder, second-degree felony aggravated assault resulting in serious injury, third-degree felony rioting, class A misdemeanor threat or use of a dangerous weapon in a fight, class B misdemeanor criminal mischief and class B misdemeanor discharge of a firearm upon a highway.
Darling was arrested under the suspicion of second-degree felony obstruction of justice and third-degree felony rioting.
Taggart and Darling are currently being held at the Utah County Jail under $42,980 and $25,010 bail, respectively. Arresting officers have petitioned the court for Taggart to be held without bail as he lives in a mobile home with no permanent address and is likely to flee the state, according to the probable cause statement.