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Police searching for suspect in American Fork shoplifting, kidnapping

By Kelcie Hartley - | Aug 10, 2022

Kelcie Hartley, Daily Herald.

American Fork police vehicles are positioned in a Walmart parking lot Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, after shoplifting reports.

American Fork police are searching for a suspect who allegedly fled from officers during events that included reports of shoplifting, child abduction and shots fired by law enforcement.

According to the AFPD, the incident began with officers responding to reports of shoplifting at the Walmart store on Grassland Drive near State Street a little before 9 p.m. and quickly escalated when the suspect, later identified as Danny Sihalath, 29, wouldn’t comply with officers’ commands.

“It was reported that an adult male was concealing items and cutting open packages,” said Josh Christensen, AFPD public information officer. “Our officers responded and about the time they were in the area, the loss prevention employees (reported) the individual was immediately noncompliant and took off running out of the store. Our officers actually watched him run out of the store and to a vehicle. They made contact with him near that vehicle and were giving him commands but he didn’t comply with any commands.”

Lutece Ruiz-Montano, 32, a passenger with Sihalath, got out of the vehicle and was struck by the car and knocked to the ground as he drove away. Christensen said she sustained minor injuries.

A Utah County Sheriff’s deputy was on scene and fired shots at the vehicle as it drove off, according to Christensen. Sgt. Spencer Cannon, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, told the Daily Herald he didn’t know much about the incident but confirmed that a sheriff’s deputy was involved and did fire shots.

Witness Adam Bateman was sitting across from the parking lot outside at Roxberry Juice Co. when the incident occurred.

“We were having a drink on a date, and we saw the cops pull up and a cop yelled, ‘Get out of the car. Get out of the car. Put your hands up. Put your hands up,'” Bateman said. “The guy didn’t comply and put the car in reverse. The cops told him, ‘Don’t do it,’ but he took off and a cop shot four or five times.”

“The vehicle continued to flee, and our officers chased for a short time until they lost the visual and had to terminate,” Christensen said. As of 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sihalath hadn’t yet been located by law enforcement.

It wasn’t until after the vehicle had fled that officers were informed by the female that there was a 5-year-old child inside the vehicle, prompting an Amber Alert to be issued.

Christensen said by the end of Tuesday night, police determined that Ruiz-Montano wasn’t cooperating and was obstructing the investigation. She was booked into the Utah County Jail on obstruction and retail theft charges.

“We thought the best course of action would be best to locate this child,” Christensen said. “Eventually, after hours and hours and a bunch of man power, we located the child at a distant family member’s home in West Valley. That was around 4 a.m. this morning when the child was found and the Amber Alert was canceled.”

According to the Utah Public Safety Twitter page, Sihalath is described as 5-foot-11, weighing 190 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last known to be driving a red 2012 Acura TSX SE with Utah license plate No. 2S2NP.

The vehicle was found in West Valley early this morning at what police learned to be the home of Sihalath’s brother, according to Christensen. Police obtained a search warrant for the home, but Sihalath was not found.

“When we obtained the vehicle, we were able to learn that he was hit (by a bullet) in the vehicle based on the blood evidence,” Christensen said.

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