Suspect arrested after St. George Police find nearly $2,500 in fentanyl pills in restroom on Mall Drive

In this 2020 stock image of St. George Police Patrol Vehicle taken in St. George, Utah, Jan. 29, 2020 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Nearly $2,500 in suspected fentanyl pills were recovered from a trashcan in the restroom of a local restaurant by officers responding to a welfare check call over the weekend.

2017 stock image of Smith’s Marketplace on South Mall Drive, St. George, Utah, Nov. 10, 2017 | St. George News

On Saturday, officers were dispatched to conduct a welfare check on two individuals shortly after 3 p.m., after a call to 911 reported the pair “appeared to be on drugs and were scaring customers,” the officer noted in the probable cause statement filed with the courts.

Officers arrived to learn that both had left the frozen yogurt shop on Riverside Drive in St. George. Minutes later, one of the officers spotted a man matching the description of the person described by the witnesses, who was pacing in the parking lot of Smith’s Marketplace and who appeared to not know where he was going, the report states.

The suspect was also hunched over as he walked, the officer noted, and continued looking around, as if he was trying to hide from someone – which caused the officer to become even more suspicious.

Police say when the suspect spotted the patrol vehicle, he began walking faster toward Panda Express on Mall Drive and then entered the restaurant. Officers followed, but once inside, they were advised the suspect had gone into the restroom and quickly locked the door.

Less than a minute later the suspect quickly exited the restroom and was approached by the officers as soon as he went outside. The suspect was identified as 22-year-old Matthew Jacob Morrison, of Mission Viejo, California, by his driver’s license.

Officers then searched the restroom the suspect was seen exiting from, which is when they say they found a zip-close bag containing approximately 60-70 small blue pills at the bottom of the trash can, along with a $5 bill.

According to the report, the pills were consistent with suspected fentanyl pills.

Intersection of Mall Drive and Riverside Drive, St. George, Utah, Oct. 19, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The suspect was detained, and while speaking to the officers, he reportedly said he had no idea of what was found in the restroom, saying he had only gone in there to wash his face.

Police say Morrison would later say he went into the restroom because he was scared that police were following him and that he threw the pills in the trash. He also allegedly said they were fentanyl pills that he had gotten from a friend and that he had no job or any money and was sleeping on a friend’s couch.

The suspect also said the pills were valued at $35 each, the report states, and that he had smoked some of them earlier in the day, adding that he uses two pills on an average day.

The officer also noted the number of pills was more than the amount any typical user would carry at any given time.

Due to the amount of narcotics seized by police, the suspect was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing second-degree felony possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia.

There was no further mention of the woman who was reportedly with the suspect when officers were being dispatched to the call to conduct a welfare check.

Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained. 

This report is based on statements from court records, 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.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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