Explosive materials, stolen body armor seized from Vernal house, police say

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Vernal man who police say had bomb-making materials in his house and a bullet-proof vest from a sheriff's office in a hidden space was arrested in Uintah County.

On Tuesday, Uintah County sheriff's deputies responded to a report of an assault at a home. Deputies found an intoxicated man outside the house who claimed that Michael Dallas Rowley had threatened him with a .22 caliber rifle during an argument and "threatened to shoot him if he returned to the residence," according to a police affidavit.

The man told investigators that Rowley also had other firearms in the house, as well as "a hidden space beneath the residence in which he had possibly hidden other firearms. The subject described the hidden space and stated that it was accessed through a door that was hidden beneath the carpet in one of the bedrooms," the affidavit states.

Deputies were familiar with Rowley, who has been convicted in the past of other felony crimes which would make it illegal for him to possess a gun, according to the affidavit.

When questioned by deputies, they said Rowley claimed he was defending himself from the man who had a knife. Deputies reported finding a .22-caliber cartridge in one of Rowley's pockets and he was taken into custody.

After talking with others in the house who said they had seen firearms in the residence in recent days, and after detecting possible drugs in the house, investigators obtained a search warrant for the residence, the affidavit says.

"The results of the search are as follows: Gunpowder, pyrotechnics, and materials — pipe fittings, BBs, washers — possibly related to the construction of explosive devices were located together at the residence," police wrote in the affidavit.

Furthermore, body armor was found in a bedroom closet that had a "hidden doorway to access the subfloor crawl space," according to the affidavit. "The body armor was immediately recognized as belonging to the Uintah County Sheriff's Department and had been marked for use at the department's firearms range."

Deputies also learned that Rowley had threatened to "shoot it out" with police rather than go back to prison, according to the affidavit.

At the end of the search, the sheriff's office concluded in the report that "Michael was found to be in possession of materials to construct an explosive device (such as a pipe bomb) as well as ammunition for the type of weapon that he is alleged to have threatened the individual with. Although no actual firearms were located during the search it is believed that Michael Rowley had opportunity to remove or hide the firearms prior to the anticipated arrival of law enforcement."

Rowley, 37, was booked into the Uintah County Jail Tuesday for investigation of possessing an incendiary device or parts, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, possession of a weapon by a restricted person, child endangerment, theft by receiving stolen property, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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