SALT LAKE CITY — The man seen pointing a bow and arrow at protesters in downtown Salt Lake City in May has admitted to two criminal charges stemming from the confrontation.
Brandon Earl McCormick, 58, pleaded guilty Monday in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court to possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and aggravated assault, both third-degree felonies.
Video taken at a protest outside Salt Lake City’s downtown library on May 30 shows McCormick quickly raising and lowering the weapon in multiple directions at those protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
He did not injure anyone before a group swarmed and attacked him, and was later pulled away by police as blood streamed down his face.
Several demonstrators then overturned his SUV and lit it on fire not far from a police car that also erupted in flames. Police said they recovered a separate crossbow from McCormick’s charred SUV.
At a preliminary hearing in July, another driver, Reggie Wilson, testified that McCormick was lunging at protesters with a knife, yelling “all lives matter” and using the N-word before training the bow and arrow at several people there.
On Monday, McCormick wore a yellow jail uniform and black face mask in the hearing held over video conference. He replied, “guilty, your honor” when a judge asked for his pleas.
The guilty pleas reflect that he attempted to cause injury that day, using a show of force with the bow and arrow; and that he had a knife despite felony convictions that barred him from lawfully possessing one, said his defense attorney Zoraya Gappmaier.
Third District Judge Paul Parker denied McCormick’s request to be released to a halfway house ahead of sentencing.
McCormick was doing well for three years but began drinking again in the spring after his company laid him off because of the pandemic.
“During the months that he was not working, he was self-medicating his anxiety and fears about not being able to make ends meet, or see a supportive community at work,” Gappmaier said. Her client “suffered from a lot of anxiety and depression,” she added.
Gappmaier argued that time in rehabilitation could allow her client to show he can follow rules, interact calmly with others and address the issues that cause his alcohol dependency.
Although her client has spent 27 years in and out of prison in other states, he had been sober from meth for 20 years, she said.
He has the support of a tight-knit congregation, Gappmaier said without elaborating. His church has offered to cover the cost of treatment, she said.
Deputy Salt Lake County district attorney Alex Stoedter said McCormick poses too great a risk to the public and should not be released from jail before he is sentenced, in part because he has violated parole and carried out several violent crimes in the past.
“He’s got convictions in five different states,” Stoedter said, including in California and Arizona. The crimes included home-invasion burglaries and battery on a police officer.
Prosecutors believe a separate assault charge he faces in a Taylorsville road-rage incident is also racially motivated, Stoedter said, “where he’s using vicious slurs against minorities.” Gappmaier responded saying the two involved are alleged to have pushed each other.
“In this case, he very nearly could have seriously injured or killed someone, and luckily that did not happen,” Stoedter said.
The judge said he may grant the request in the future but declined to do so Monday, saying he needed to balance McCormick’s need for treatment against public safety.
As part of the deal and in exchange for his guilty pleas, two other charges were dismissed. They were another count of weapons possession by a restricted person and threatening to use a weapon during a fight, both third-degree felonies.
McCormick faces up to five years in prison on each conviction and a maximum fine of $5,000 when he is sentenced Nov. 2.