‘They could hear the bullets zipping by’: Officials release additional details of active shooter on I-15

ST. GEORGE — A Colorado man who reportedly fired multiple shots at police officers, K-9 units and a law enforcement helicopter was arrested Monday night and is being held without bail. The large-scale incident involved officers from multiple jurisdictions and triggered a forced shutdown of Interstate 15 in Beaver County.

Beaver County Sheriff’s Office sets up command post near Interstate 15 when a suspect reportedly shoots at officers during a pursuit in Beaver County, Utah, Sept. 13, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

According to charging documents filed in support of the arrest, the incident began Monday evening when a UHP trooper spotted a vehicle heading north on I-15 near mile marker 117 just south of Manderfield and tracked the vehicle going 100 mph in an 80 mph speed zone.

The driver allegedly fled when the trooper got behind the vehicle, with the pursuit reaching speeds of nearly 120 mph.

The pursuit continued for several miles until the suspect attempted to make a U-turn in the median and the car suddenly stopped. At that point, the driver, later identified as 41-year-old William Jason Brooks of Denver, Colorado, got out of the car and took off running west toward the nearby hills.

Two passengers in the vehicle placed their hands outside of the windows and surrendered to authorities.

Officers from multiple jurisdictions responded with four K-9 teams that began tracking the suspect. Tactical teams from the Department of Public Safety, Beaver County, Iron County and St. George also responded.

The suspect allegedly started shooting at the officers, who took cover to avoid being hit. “They could hear the bullets zipping by them,” the report stated, “and saw bullets impacting the ground near them.”

The Utah Department of Public Safety’s Aero Bureau sent two helicopters to assist in the search, and once the sun went down, officers continued their efforts in complete darkness.

Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel told St. George News a command post was also set up to coordinate the large-scale search operation. Both sides of I-15 were shut down, which Noel said was a safety precaution to protect motorists from a potential carjacking or other risks that can occur in situations involving a fleeing suspect with a firearm.

Using FLIR thermal cameras, the helicopter crews soon located the suspect hiding in some brush near the area where the shots were reportedly fired toward the K-9 officers. Brooks also allegedly shot at the air response.

Map depicting location where a suspect is arrested for reportedly shooting at officers during a pursuit in Beaver County, Utah, Sept. 13, 2021| Image courtesy of Google Maps, St. George News

SWAT teams were deployed, and once they approached the suspect, he was ordered to surrender, but instead of complying, the report states that Brooks fled into the surrounding brush and began making his way back toward the interstate. He surrendered shortly thereafter.

While speaking to the officers, the report states the suspect denied shooting at the officers, saying it “must have been someone else.”

While the search was being conducted of the suspect’s vehicle, Utah Department of Public Safety agents with the State Bureau of Investigation were able to positively identify Brooks. They also discovered multiple felony convictions, as well as an out-of-state fugitive warrant that was issued in connection with a parole violation.

Inside the suspect’s vehicle, troopers found distributable amounts of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl and MDMA, along with digital scales and baggies commonly used in the sale of narcotics.

A backpack in the vehicle contained a Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun and a bus ticket issued under the suspect’s name, as well as marijuana, syringes and a plastic container of methamphetamine that appeared to be for personal use.

Officer staged on northbound Interstate 15 while manhunt continues for suspect who reportedly shot at officers in Beaver County, Utah, Sept. 13, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Also recovered were several other items, including a black cloth bag containing suspected heroin and cocaine that was packaged for individual sale, along with a THC vape cartridge and several pieces of gold jewelry.

Inside of the suspect’s wallet officers found two identification cards and a debit card that did not belong to the suspect.

During a search of the suspect prior to transport, officers recovered a Glock handgun that was reported as stolen out of Castle Rock, Colorado, in August.

The officer subsequently noted in his report that “Brooks attempted to shoot 6 police officers. He is a wanted parole fugitive, and fled from law enforcement.”

Brooks was transported to the hospital for medical clearance and was then booked into the Beaver County Jail where he is being held without bail.

The vehicle was registered to one of the passengers, 38-year-old Tammy Marie Emanuel of Aurora, Colorado, who was also taken into custody and booked into jail facing misdemeanor drug and paraphernalia possession charges. The front seat passenger, 43-year-old John Gow of Parker, Colorado, was also arrested and booked into jail on similar charges.

The successful outcome of such a large-scale operation was made possible by effective multiagency coordination, the UHP statement said, adding that it ended a “bad situation with the best possible outcome. No officers or suspects were injured.”

I-15 in both directions was shut down for more than four hours, Noel said, and reopened shortly after midnight following the arrest.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing.

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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