SALT LAKE CITY — It was a tense four hours Sunday afternoon for family members and friends of Zeland Adams and the 2-year-old boy he was holding hostage. The situation was equally intense for the law enforcement officers involved.
"Time goes pretty quick in these events. They're very dynamic," Utah Highway Patrol Capt. Barton Blair said Monday.
The scene played out on a stretch of I-15 near Parowan. A Utah Highway Patrol troopers stopped Adams' vehicle when they learned it was being sought by U.S. marshals as part of a homicide investigation in Louisiana. Two passengers got out and surrendered, but Adams, 28, took off with the toddler inside.
Troopers said Adams led them on a chase, at speeds up to 130 mph. Once his tires were spiked, the standoff began.
Investigators say Adams claimed to have several guns inside the vehicle, but that wasn't the only factor that kept officers on edge. The female driver and a male passenger who surrendered told officers he also had three or four cellphones in the car with him.
"(It was a) very complex situation," Blair said. "Controlling the information, making sure that it isn't getting back to the suspect when we're trying to deal with tactically; how to end and resolve that situation certainly adds to it."
On top of trying to make sure Adams couldn't monitor information about the standoff from the phones, negotiators became increasingly concerned about phone calls they say he was making.
"Part of the concern is statements he's making about wanting to have an armed confrontation with law enforcement," Blair said, "calling family members and friends, saying goodbye; things like that were very concerning."
Negotiators worked with Adams toward a peaceful resolution, while officers from several agencies re-routed traffic along I-15. Blair said investigators had received information that Adams might have an assault rifle with the ability to shoot long distances.
"Our concern was that if there was a confrontation, an armed confrontation, that there would be the potential for injury from passing motorists," Blair said.
While dozens of law enforcement worked together during the difficult standoff, Blair credited negotiators for helping Adams to surrender peacefully.
"(The) little boy looked pretty happy to be back with his mom," Blair said.
Adams is being held in the Iron County Jail on several potential charges, including kidnapping, evading police and reckless endangerment. He was not holding any weapons when he surrendered, Blair said.