Utah Highway Patrol

Idaho, Utah authorities searching for man accused of shooting and killing I-84 driver

By Jacob Klopfenstein and Cara MacDonald, KSL.com | Updated - May 23rd, 2019 @ 6:19pm | Posted - May 23rd, 2019 @ 7:58am

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SNOWVILLE, Box Elder County — Authorities in Idaho are looking for a man who is accused of shooting and killing a man on I-84 in northwest Utah.

Jonathan Mendoza Llana, 45, is wanted in connection with the shooting, according to a tweet from Idaho State Police.

Just after 10 p.m. Wednesday, emergency authorities responded to westbound I-84 about 14 miles east of Snowville in Box Elder County, according to a news release from Utah Highway Patrol.

The passenger of a Range Rover called 911 to report that the driver of the car had been shot, the release states. The driver died at the scene, and the passenger was taken to Bear River Valley Hospital in Tremonton with injuries, according to the release.

The driver was later identified as 50-year-old Dennis Gwyther, of Salt Lake City, according to Utah State Bureau of Investigations Lt. Ryan Van Fleet. A single round hit the passenger in the arm, Van Fleet said.

Investigators believe there was a traffic slowdown in the area as one semitruck passed another on the two-lane road, Van Fleet said. Once the slowdown cleared, the two cars involved in the shooting passed the area where the slowdown took place, and the shooting occured shortly after that, he said.

It appears that there was not any contact between the two cars prior to the shooting, Van Fleet said. There is no indication that road rage was a factor in the shooting.

He did not know exactly how many shots were fired.

The passenger in the Range Rover described a silver Volkswagen Jetta that was in the area at the time of the shooting, and authorities began searching for the car, the release states.

Idaho State Police found the car shortly afterward in Cassia County, according to the tweet. Police tried to stop the car, but it fled and eventually crashed into a canal in a field off of I-86 near Raft River, Idaho, police said. The driver of the car is thought to have fled from the crash scene, the news release states.

Police found a weapon in the Jetta after it crashed, Van Fleet said, but it is not known if that was the weapon used in the shooting where Gwyther died.

Van Fleet added that investigators do not know exactly who was in the Jetta at the time of the shooting, but that Llana is the registered owner of the Jetta. Idaho police identified Llana as a suspect in the case.

On Thursday evening, Llana was charged with criminal homicide and aggravated murder as well as attempt to commit criminal homicide and aggravated murder, both first-degree felonies, according to the Box Elder County Attorney office.

Anyone with information Llana's whereabouts is asked to call Idaho State Police at 208-846-7550.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story erroneously said Llana was taken into custody. This article has been corrected to state he is still at large.


Jacob Klopfenstein
Cara MacDonald

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