Suspects arrested after four-hour standoff identified

ST. GEORGE — Four people arrested after a four-hour standoff with St. George Police SWAT team and the Washington County Drug Task Force have been identified and charged.

L to R: Nevada Jennings, 22; Theresa Morales, 53; both of St. George; Brandon Stefanski, 44, of Washington City and Jacob Christensen, 33, of St. George booking photos taken in Washington County, Utah July 12, 2019 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Police descended on the home, located in a typically quiet Desert Hills residential neighborhood, just before 6 a.m. Friday to serve a search warrant, St. George Police Capt. Curtis Spragg told St. George News.

Five adults were eventually taken into custody. There was also an 11-year-old juvenile that was also in the home as the incident unfolded, according to police charging documents filed in Washington County Justice Court.

Brandon Stefanski, 44, of Washington City was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility. According to the jail’s online records, he faces two second-degree felony counts of possession with intent to distribute, along with two misdemeanor counts of drug and paraphernalia possession and interfering with an arrest. Jail records show that Stefanski has also been placed on a federal hold.

Nevada Jennings, 22 of St. George was arrested and booked into jail on one count of interfering with an arrest, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of her arrest. Jennings allegedly failed to follow the officers commands, “which caused officers to delay the service of the search warrant for four hours before she exited the residence,” according to a police affidavit submitted to the Washington County Justice Court.

Jail records show that Theresa Morales, 53, was arrested on a warrant issued after she allegedly violated the terms of her probation on a 2016 misdemeanor drug case. Another suspect from Friday’s stand-off, 30-year-old Jacob Christensen of St. George, was arrested on a warrant issued July 2 for second-degree felony distribution of a controlled substance.

The authorities involved exercised caution, and the standoff played out for several hours after some inside the home did not readily comply with officers’ commands.

SWAT command truck is staged off of Price Hills Drive when agents assist in an incident involving a search warrant, St. George, Utah, July 12, 2019 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Witnesses to the standoff, who asked not to be identified, reported hearing loud bangs similar to small explosions at the raided residence, followed by officers repeatedly yelling into a bullhorn for people inside the home to come out.

The department’s SWAT team was called in to assist in coaxing the suspects out of the home using commands made over a loudspeaker, Spragg said.

While the initial report said four individuals were taken into custody, court documents show that a fifth person, 33-year-old St. George woman, was also taken into custody. However information relating to that woman’s arrest or possible criminal charges were unavailable.

Read more: 4 people arrested during SWAT-assisted drug bust

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.  

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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