ST. GEORGE – Three of four individuals have been identified and charged Tuesday after being detained by Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol Division south of Utah’s border after first fleeing a traffic stop by St. George Police and then abandoning the truck they were traveling in on the right shoulder of Interstate 15 near Utah’s Port of Entry and fleeing on foot.
Saray Diaz Fernandez, 22, of Wyoming, and Brooks Anthony Burkhardt, 30, of Nebraska, both passengers of the GMC truck they were traveling in which has been reported as a stolen vehicle, were booked into Utah’s Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility. Both of them charged with a class A misdemeanor for failure to stop at the command of an officer. Bail for each of their release pending trial has been set at $1,950.
Maurissa Renee Barnes, 21, of Nebraska, the driver of the GMC truck that fled the traffic stop by St. George Police, was booked into the Mesquite Detention Center in Nevada on Arizona charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and a Utah warrant issued by the St. George Police Department, Arizona DPS Sgt. John T. Bottoms said.
Barnes’ Utah warrant involves charges including a second-degree felony for receiving stolen property; a third-degree felony for failure to stop at the command of an officer; a class B misdemeanor for theft; and a class C misdemeanor for using plates registered to another vehicle.
“The warrant had a $15,680 cash bond,” Bottoms said.
The search began Tuesday when a St. George Police Officer stopped the GMC truck they were traveling in for speeding on I-15 at about 4 a.m. After initiating the stop, the officer ascertained that the truck had been stolen out of Wyoming and carried a license plate stolen out of Colorado.
The officer asked the driver Barnes to get out of the vehicle and then heard someone inside the truck yell “go” and the truck sped off.
Shortly thereafter, the GMC truck crashed into an embankment on the right shoulder of I-15 just south of Utah’s Port of Entry. The group abandoned the truck – apparently fleeing west into the surrounding desert.
During an interview with detectives, Barnes said the fourth occupant of the vehicle, Andrew, also known as “Foodstamp,” pulled a gun on her and told her to “go” during the traffic stop, according to the probable cause statement by St. George Police Detective Wyatt Miles filed in support of a motion for Barnes’ Utah warrant.
“Ms. Barnes then left the traffic stop and said that Andrew switched positions with her in the driver’s seat which caused the accident,” Miles said in the statement.
Burkhardt, one of two men in the vehicle, told detectives that the fourth person, Andrew, was driving the vehicle before they were pulled over and made Barnes change places with him because he did not have a valid ID, Miles said.
“Brooks also stated that during the traffic stop he told them the vehicle was ‘hot’ and they needed to go,” Miles said in the statement, “so (Barnes) took off and then Andrew traded places with (Barnes) which caused the accident.”
Around 1 p.m., the St. George Communications Center received several 911 calls reporting three “suspicious” individuals near Arizona mile marker 26.5 of Interstate 15 southbound, about one-half mile south of Black Rock Road Exit 27.
“At this time, it is believed that there is one male individual who is associated with this case that is still at large,” according to statements released by St. George Police Department Tuesday. “Investigators are actively working to obtain information regarding the fourth suspect.”
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Barnes made her initial court appearance Tuesday morning and was transferred to the Mohave County Detention Facility in Kingman, Arizona, pending hearing on extradition proceedings to Utah, Bottoms said.
- 3 of 4 fleeing suspects caught in Arizona; STGnews Videocast
- News LIVE: 3 of 4 possible suspects detained by AHP in Arizona; Updated 2:15 p.m.
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