Search for suspect in ranger shooting officially 'scaled back;' attempted murder charges filed
by Lisa J Church
staff writer
Nov 23, 2010 | 20635 views | 3 3 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Utah State Park Ranger Brody Young. Photo courtesy of Utah State Parks
Utah State Park Ranger Brody Young. Photo courtesy of Utah State Parks
Shooting suspect Lance Leeroy Arellano was identified by the Grand County Sheriff's Office on Sunday night. Photo courtesy of Grand County Sheriff
Shooting suspect Lance Leeroy Arellano was identified by the Grand County Sheriff's Office on Sunday night. Photo courtesy of Grand County Sheriff
The massive manhunt for a Sanpete County, Utah man suspected of shooting and critically wounding a Utah state park ranger has been officially scaled back after law enforcement agencies turned up no new leads on Tuesday, the fourth full day of the manhunt.

An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday afternoon for Lance Leeroy Arellano, who is accused of shooting and critically wounding Utah State Parks Ranger Brody Young, 34, during a Nov. 19 traffic stop at Poison Spider trailhead west of Moab.

The warrant, filed in 7th District Court in Moab by Grand County Attorney Happy Morgan, charges Arellano with attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony. Bail for Arellano, 40, has been set at $1 million, according to court documents.

Beginning immediately, search operations will include maintaining perimeter security, and "roving law enforcement patrols" in the area, Nyland said. SWAT teams will remain on call, he said, but the massive, multi-agency manhunt has ended. Nyland said hospitals have been alerted to contact authorities if a man matching Arellano's description seeks medical help.

"By any means, we're not stopping searching for this suspect," Nyland said during a news conference Tuesday night. "We're just altering our operations search... We'll still be searching the area. However, we will have some, mainly roving patrols." He added that police will still be posted in the area to "maintain the perimeter."

Police are uncertain whether Arellano is still alive, and Nyland said Tuesday that it is now unclear whether footprints found in the area in the early hours of the search effort actually were made by Arellano.

"As it turns out, the [footprints] may not be related to the suspect," Nyland said.

About 167 law enforcement agents combed a craggy, boulder-strewn area near Caveman Ranch, about 22 miles southwest of Moab in search of Arellano on Monday and Tuesday. The search was concentrated in that section of canyon because it is where a backpack, a .22 caliber rifle and a piece of bloody T-shirt believed to belong to the the suspect were found on Saturday.

The area, which includes large boulders and deep caves, is especially rugged, and Nyland said searchers worked to check every crevice and cave, but found no evidence of Arellano.

He said Monday that some of the many caves in the area go back as far as 60 to 70 feet, and could provide shelter for the wounded suspect, who police believe was not prepared for the cold, rainy weather that set into the region since the manhunt began.

Nyland said the search team, which at its peak included more than 220 local, regional, state and federal law enforcement agents, is "very disappointed" in Tuesday's results, and he thanked all the agencies, as well as local citizens and businesses who had provided help throughout the four-day manhunt.

"Everybody out there wanted to apprehend this individual. We used every resource available to us. We just couldn't located [Arellano]," Nyland said. "We've had no sightings at all."

But Nyland expressed confidence that Arellano is still in the area, even if he somehow moved outside the perimeter set up by police.

"I'm not so sure [whether Arellano is still within the perimeter]," Nyland said. "But I believe he's still in that area."

Fingerprints inside the Pontiac Grand Am belonging to Arellano and other evidence processed from inside the vehicle on Monday confirmed for police that Arellano "is the person we're looking for," Nyland said Monday.

Evidence at the scene leads authorities to believeArellano was wounded in the lower leg during the gunfight with Young, Nyland said.

San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy said Tuesday night that it is possible Arellano attempted to cross the nearby Colorado River, but he said that is somewhat unlikely because the cold temperature of the water would have been a deterrent.

Lacy also said family members have indicated that Arellano is "in pretty good" physical condition. He said the suspect may not be seriously wounded and could have been more mobile than originally believed.

"I suspect it's a superficial wound to his leg," Lacy said. "And with a superficial wound you can cover a lot of terrain."

Arellano has a criminal history including assault, possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia, and theft - all misdemeanors. Arellano is last known to have lived in Sanpete County, Utah and he has also lived in the Salt Lake City area.

Young's family issued a statement Monday afternoon thanking the public, police officers and medical teams for their support and assistance. The family said Young is in serious but stable condition on Monday.

Young's family also thanked Arellano's mother for "coming forward with essential information" to aid authorities.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family for their heartbreak," family members said. "We are especially grateful to all those who are involved in the search and investigation efforts. We pray that no one else will be hurt."

Young, a Moab resident is the father of three children with his wife Wendy. A fund has been established to help Young's family, according to the statement. Donations may be made to Brody Young Benefit Fund at Wells Fargo Bank.

Nyland said Arellano is believed to be in the possession of a .40 caliber, and authorities still consider him to be dangerous.

Law enforcement officials said Saturday afternoon that they believed they are closing in on a suspect who critically wounded a Utah state park ranger on Friday evening.

Young was shot multiple times and critically wounded at about 8:40 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19 as he pulled over Arellano's vehicle at the Poison Spider trailhead west of Moab.

Young was able to radio for help, and was transported by helicopter to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo. for treatment.

Arellano's silver Pontiac Grand Am was located on state Route 279, the Potash Road, about 15 miles southwest of Moab, authorities said.

Authorities said they are still piecing together information to try and determine what led to the gunfight. Police have not yet been able to interview Young, Nyland said.

"Ranger Young is hurt very bad," Nyland said. "We haven't been able to talk to him at all."

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