SALT LAKE CITY — Reggie Wilson worried someone would get hurt.
He urged the man who was lunging at protesters with a knife, yelling “all lives matter” and using the N-word outside Salt Lake City’s downtown library to leave and go home.
But Brandon Earl McCormick, 57, wasn’t going anywhere, even after two demonstrators punched him. McCormick told Wilson to leave him alone before returning to his car and retrieving the bow he would train on Wilson, then the accompanying arrow he would point at those protesting on May 30 the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
After listening to Wilson’s testimony at a preliminary hearing Tuesday, 3rd District Judge Paul Parker ordered McCormick to stand trial on four criminal counts including aggravated assault.
Wilson had gone for a drive with his dog that day and ended up in park with McCormick stopped just behind him as protesters drifted into the street. Wilson recalled watching much of the drama unfold in his rearview mirror and open windows, at one point laying on the horn to draw the attention of officers because he feared McCormick would either harm someone or get hurt.
Police said they obtained video showing McCormick loading the arrow and drawing it back, then pointing it at several people in the crowd. He did not injure anyone before a group swarmed and attacked him, and he was later pulled away by police as blood streamed down his face.
Afterward, several people overturned his SUV and lit it on fire not far from a police car that also went up in flames.
McCormick made his own plea Tuesday, asking the judge to reduce his $100,000 bond. He said he has done some bad things and regrets them but has turned his life around.
“Sir, in the past, I was a jackass,” he told the judge, sporting a yellow jail uniform and pulling aside a blue face mask. “I was a drug addict, I’ve made poor choices.”
McCormick, of Taylorsville, said he fears he will contract the coronavirus while incarcerated and promised he would go to Salt Lake City only to see his lawyer if released.
He said he had four days to leave the state and country before he surrendered to police in June but “I didn’t do it. I don’t like looking over my shoulder.”
Parker declined his request, saying McCormick was recently convicted of assault and drove out of his way to get to the protest that day.
“We have a couple violent offenses within a very short period,” Parker said.
Defense attorney Zoraya Gappmaier argued McCormick has heart problems, bipolar disorder and depression. And although he has spent 27 years in and out of prison, including in Arizona, she said he has been sober and doing well for the last three years, drawing praise from his boss before virus restrictions robbed him of his job at an events center.
Deputy Salt Lake County district attorney Alex Stoedter countered that McCormick has spent just 12 years of his adult life outside the walls of a prison.
Stoedter said the allegations against him are “incredibly disturbing,” noting McCormick was heard using a racial slur and brandished weapons despite having felony convictions that bar him from possessing any. Prosecutors have said McCormick additionally has convictions of battery on a peace officer or fireman and a weapons charge in San Bernardino, California.
McCormick, has not yet entered pleas to two counts of possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, aggravated assault, and threatening to use a weapon during a fight, all third-degree felonies. Prosecutors last week upgraded the fourth charge from a class A misdemeanor.
He returns to court Aug. 17.