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Lehi man arrested for attempted murder after driving onto sidewalks in American Fork

By Ryann Richardson daily Herald - | Sep 15, 2020

A Lehi man was arrested under suspicion of attempted murder after he allegedly drove his vehicle onto sidewalks in front of businesses and attempted to hit customers.

Authorities responded to the scene Saturday after receiving several calls reporting a male driver trying to hit other vehicles and driving into oncoming traffic. The man, later identified as 55-year-old Shane Andrew Johnson of Lehi, was driving a gray Jeep Cherokee.

When officials arrived on scene, they located the vehicle and Johnson, who allegedly began to evade police by driving away as authorities initiated their emergency lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the vehicle, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest. When Johnson refused to comply with orders to stop, a vehicle pursuit ensued.

Johnson allegedly continued to drive erratically by traveling into oncoming traffic, over parking lot curbs, into grassy areas belonging to businesses in the area, through a city park, through a cemetery where a funeral was actively taking place, and other places a vehicle is not permitted to travel during the pursuit.

At one point, police reported Johnson’s vehicle was driving down a residential road where a male pedestrian was walking on the sidewalk. According to arrest documents, the vehicle left the roadway to drive over the curb and onto the sidewalk, allegedly aiming for the male pedestrian.

To avoid being hit by the vehicle, the male pedestrian was forced to quickly move off of the sidewalk and onto the roadway.

“There was no reason for the vehicle to leave the road (e.g. avoiding traffic, avoiding a collision, etc),” according to the probable cause affidavit. “This demonstrated that Johnson, intending to cause serious bodily injury to another, committed an act clearly dangerous to human life that nearly caused the death of another by trying to hit him with his vehicle.”

At this point, authorities terminated the vehicle pursuit, fearing for the safety of the community. The vehicle pursuit was reinstated later that same day in American Fork by another agency.

During this leg of the pursuit, Johnson allegedly continued to evade police as his vehicle approached businesses along Main Street in American Fork.

At the time, the businesses were open and two employees were on the sidewalk while three customers were browsing inventory in front of the store. One of the individuals involved was 15 years old, according to the probable cause statement.

Before reaching any of the businesses, Johnson allegedly left the roadway and drove onto the sidewalk at about 30-40 miles per hour.

Four of the five individuals outside of the businesses saw the vehicle coming and quickly maneuvered to avoid being hit. The fifth individual was just out of the way of the vehicle and was not aware of what was happening until the vehicle had already passed her.

Johnson’s vehicle allegedly struck several tables, knocking one of the tables into an employee, which partially pinned her against the store. None of the five individuals outside of the business were struck by the vehicle.

“This demonstrated that, acting under circumstances evidencing a depraved indifference to human life, Johnson took substantial steps toward knowingly engaging in conduct which created a grave risk of death to five individuals but did not cause any deaths,” the probable cause affidavit read.

Authorities were able to corner Johnson on a dead-end road and took him into custody without incident. Johnson was identified at the scene by his state-issued identification card as well as past interaction with law enforcement officers on scene.

Johnson allegedly told police he had nearly hit several people with his vehicle, had hit tables in front of businesses on Main Street, and “knew what [he] was doing” because he was a “professional driver,” according to arrest documents.

He allegedly made comments to police, stating he had been trying to get officers to catch him all day.

Johnson has also been charged, or convicted, of crimes, including assault on an officer, domestic violence, damaging of a correctional facility, trespass, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, violation of a protective order, resisting arrest, theft, arson, obstruction of justice, intoxication and drug distribution.

Johnson also reportedly told police he was involved in a motorcycle pursuit the night before with another agency in Utah County, allegedly calling the pursuit “fun.”

Earlier that morning, officers with the American Fork Police Department were called to the Motel 6 in Lehi after receiving reports of disorderly conduct. When police arrived, motel staff told officials that a man staying in one of the rooms had called the front desk and told an employee that he was lonely and likes to break things.

According to arrest documents, the man — identified as Johnson — told the staff member he would leave a big tip when he left for the items that he had damaged. Staff called police when they discovered Johnson had allegedly thrown a microwave out of the third-story window.

When officials arrived, authorities discovered a microwave, a room chair and a remote control on the ground outside of the open window, which was three stories higher than the ground.

On the way to the room, police found flowers and stems in the hallway in front of the room Johnson had been staying in as well as flowers placed in the handles of nearby rooms.

When motel staff confirmed the room was unoccupied, officers were allowed in and discovered the room was in disarray. Authorities reported that trash and food items were strewn over the room and wiped on the walls, windows and bed sheets.

There was a $1 bill left on the counter, which had been torn in half. Motel staff found that the room was registered to a woman but had the contact information for Johnson. Video surveillance showed the Johnson as a guest of the room.

Motel staff was able to calculate the damages at about $550.

American Fork authorities arrested Johnson under the suspicion of six counts of second-degree felony attempted murder, third-degree felony failure to stop or respond at command of police, and class A misdemeanor criminal mischief involving a loss of $500-$1,500.

Johnson was on felony probation at the time of his arrest. Arresting officers asserted that if Johnson were to be released from jail pending legal proceedings, he would constitute “a tremendous danger to society and public order,” according to the probable cause affidavit.

He is currently being held at the Utah County Jail.

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