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Trial ordered for Utahn charged with threatening to shoot at football practice

A judge on Tuesday ordered a Sunset man accused of threatening to bring a gun to a football practice and shoot people to stand trial on a charge of threat of terrorism.

A judge on Tuesday ordered a Sunset man accused of threatening to bring a gun to a football practice and shoot people to stand trial on a charge of threat of terrorism. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A 3rd District judge ordered a Sunset man on Tuesday to stand trial for threat of terrorism after he allegedly threatened to bring a gun to a football practice and shoot people.

Joshua Scott Howard, 38, was charged with the second-degree felony after getting into an argument with a woman at Magna Copper Park, 8975 W. 2600 South, during a youth football practice, the Unified police told KSL in September. The man is accused of threatening to bring a gun back to the park and shoot either the coach or the kids, which led to the coach deciding to cancel practice.

Defense attorney Chris Manberg argued that the state did not demonstrate probable cause for two aspects of the terrorism charge: first, that there was an intent to intimidate; and second, that the threat was against a "civilian population." He argued that if this instance is charged as terrorism when there were, at best, three individuals who were intimidated, that any class B misdemeanor could be charged as a felony and terrorism.

"Surely that wasn't the Legislature's intent in enacting this statute," Manberg said.

He said that the state would need to prove more than threatening words for the charges that were brought against him. Manberg also noted that the statements of the witnesses conflict with one witness saying he claimed he would come back with a gun and shoot the kids and the other one said he threatened to shoot the coaches.

Prosecutor Chelsey Kenney explained that because the event started with an altercation between Howard and a woman in which Howard was repeatedly asked to leave and continued to come back, that he did show the intent required for the charges against him. She also agreed that the threat was not just against those three, but involved anyone else at the park.

"Especially in today's day and age and our current events, anybody who threatens to come back with a gun and shoot children in a park who's already been involved in an altercation would successfully intimidate that population," Kenney said.

Judge Linda Jones decided that there is sufficient evidence for the charge and that a jury would need to decide whether Howard's intent is sufficient for the threat of terrorism charge. She said that whether the defendant said he would shoot coaches or kids, that there was a civilian population at the park and that the words support that there was an intent to either intimidate or coerce the people at the park.

Manburg asked the court to address arraignment at the same hearing, and entered a plea of not guilty for Howard.

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