CEDAR CITY — A 19-year-old man accused of shooting another man in the back near a Cedar City motel early Wednesday claimed that he acted in self-defense after being punched.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed in 5th District Court, Jaxton Joseph Saroff had asked a female acquaintance to drive him to Motel 6 shortly after midnight on Wednesday, where he was to meet up with two brothers, both of whom had reportedly been Saroff’s co-workers at the local Walmart until Saroff’s termination from employment approximately one month earlier.
The statement said that as the driver pulled up along the street just north of the Motel 6, two men came up to the car and started hitting the side of the car. The driver later told police the men and Saroff were yelling names and swear words at each other.
The driver said she started to have a panic attack and was just looking forward when she heard a gunshot.
“The victim said there was an argument and he saw Saroff reaching towards his waistband,” the statement said.
The affidavit went on to say that the victim knew Saroff had a handgun and believed he was reaching for it, so he punched Saroff to distract him and yelled at his brother to run. When the victim turned to run he said he heard the gunshot and felt the impact in his back.
He was later taken to the hospital in serious condition, but police said he is expected to recover.
The injured man’s brother subsequently called 911. After responding to the Motel 6, police determined that Saroff had been staying at a different motel a few blocks away. It was there that Saroff was arrested without further incident.
Although he was taken in to Cedar City Police Department headquarters for questioning, Saroff reportedly refused to answer questions without an attorney present.
During their search of Saroff’s motel room, police officers located a .380 caliber Remington handgun, a container containing a wax consistent with marijuana wax, a container containing a green leafy substance consistent with marijuana, and paraphernalia for marijuana use.
Witnesses told authorities they heard Saroff repeatedly say “It was self-defense,” and claim he was only defending himself after the other man punched him. Saroff had also reportedly made previous threats against his former co-workers, in addition to threatening and harassing motel employees, the charging documents allege.
Saroff, who made his initial court appearance Friday, had Jeffery Slack assigned as his court-appointed defense counsel.
Saroff continues to be held without bail in Iron County Jail, where he faces charges of attempted homicide, a second-degree felony; aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a firearm, both third-degree felonies; in addition to drug-related misdemeanors.
This report is based on information provided by law enforcement 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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