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Gunman fired at 10 vehicles in southern Utah chase, police say

Police say a gunman fired at 10 different vehicles during a police chase south of Zion National Park on Wednesday. The suspect remained hospitalized Thursday in critical condition with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police say a gunman fired at 10 different vehicles during a police chase south of Zion National Park on Wednesday. The suspect remained hospitalized Thursday in critical condition with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. (Ron Chaffin, St. George News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

ST. GEORGE — A man who police say shot at nearly a dozen vehicles on Wednesday, prompting a large manhunt that forced the closure of the road that leads into Zion National Park's south entrance, remained hospitalized Thursday in critical condition from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office provided an update Thursday about the tense manhunt that happened around Rockville Wednesday afternoon.

The incident began about 3:40 p.m. in Hurricane where Shannon Alan Griffin, 55, of Rockville, Washington County, brandished a gun at a man and his daughter before driving off, according to the sheriff's office. A Hurricane police officer spotted the car a short time later and pulled it over.

Griffin, however, refused commands by officers to get out of his car. The officers then attempted to forcibly remove Griffin from his vehicle, at which point he took off, leading to a chase with police, the sheriff's office said.

As Griffin fled on state Route 9 toward Zion National Park, "he was firing gunshots at vehicles as he passed through the cities of Hurricane, LaVerkin and Virgin. Pursuing officers reported that at times during the pursuit, Griffin reached speeds in excess of 100 mph and drove into opposing traffic," according to a statement from the sheriff's office.

At least 10 vehicles were shot at, police say. Some of them had their windows shot out.

"Despite the potentially catastrophic damage which could have occurred, only minimal injuries have been reported from citizens. No officers were injured in the incident," the sheriff's office said.

As the chase continued, officers from the Springdale-Zion Canyon Police Department set up tire spikes and investigators say they were prepared to use deadly force if necessary.

"As Griffin drove through the location (where the spikes were set) at least one tire was punctured and an officer discharged their weapon toward the suspect," according to the sheriff's office.

Griffin kept driving a short distance, stopped his car in Rockville, got out and exchanged gunfire with two Hurricane officers before running into a residential area, sheriff's officials said. A reverse 911 call was made to residents warning them of an active shooter in the area and telling them to remain indoors.

"Federal, state and local agencies responded to the area with SWAT assistance to search for Griffin. Authorities also used a helicopter and drones to canvas the area for a possible location," according to the statement.

Not long after beginning their search, a single gunshot was heard. About 6:15 p.m. Griffin was found in a backyard with a head injury "from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound," the sheriff's office said.

One officer from Springdale-Zion Canyon Police Department and two officers from Hurricane Police Department have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the officer-involved shooting investigation being conducted by the Washington County Critical Incident Task Force.

Anyone who may have video of Wednesday's incident is asked to contact the Hurricane Police Department.

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