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SALT LAKE CITY — A Colorado man who became angry after ticket agents at the Salt Lake City International Airport told him he couldn't buy a same-day plane ticket to Denver early Friday went on a crime spree across the valley, police said.
The 20-year-old man was under the influence of drugs when he carjacked two cars and tried to steal two more, then hit several vehicles in Salt Lake and Summit counties before he was taken into custody, Salt Lake police and the Utah Highway Patrol reported.
John Joseph Thomas Green was booked into the Summit County Jail for investigation of aggravated robbery, DUI, aggravated assault, assault, threat of violence, driving a stolen vehicle, reckless driving, failure to remain at the scene of an accident and other potential charges.
The wild morning began about 5 a.m. when Salt Lake police received information about a 20-year-old man who became combative at the airport, said Salt Lake police spokesman Brent Weisberg. Police originally reported the man had been angry after a flight got canceled, but they clarified later Friday that he did not actually have an existing flight reservation and was "unable to obtain a ticket and became upset."
"As our officers were heading to the scene, they learned that the passenger had actually left the area and had carjacked someone at the airport," Weisberg said.
Green left the area in the stolen vehicle and crashed into another vehicle near the intersection of 900 West and 2100 South, according to Weisberg. The man then made a U-turn and allegedly crashed into a second car.
Green then tried to steal an SUV and the female driver, who was wearing a seat belt, pushed the man away and told him to get away from her as he tried to pull her from her seat, Weisberg said. He gave up and took off in the car he had taken at the airport.
Police say the man then got onto the freeway toward South Salt Lake, where he hit another vehicle and "nearly" crashed into a building at 2860 S. West Temple.
Salt Lake police initially reported the man used a gun during that carjacking, but in a later update they said they were "working to determine whether (the man) used a firearm during this carjacking."
Green drove the Dodge Durango east on I-80 and is accused of causing five crashes, including two driving up Parleys Canyon — one was a rollover near Parleys Summit and the next crash happened about 2 miles away, said Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Cameron Roden. Three people were taken to hospitals with injuries that police said did not appear to be life-threatening.
After the stolen vehicle was disabled in the fifth crash, the man tried to carjack more vehicles on the eastbound side of traffic, Roden said, but he was unsuccessful in those efforts. The man then tried to go into the westbound lanes, "throwing rocks" and hitting a truck.
The driver of the truck stopped, then got out to check his windshield when Green "approached him and stated that he was going to kill the driver. The suspect got into a physical altercation with the driver, then proceeded to enter the pickup through the driver door," a police booking affidavit states.
Roden said the owner had removed the keys from the ignition, which prevented the man from taking it. Two Summit County sheriff's deputies arrived and pulled Green from the pickup and safely took him into custody about 6:15 a.m.
"The deputy reported the male informed him that he was under the influence of PCP, cocaine and methamphetamines," the affidavit states.
Green, who deputies say has a Colorado driver's license, was taken to Park City Medical Center before he was booked into jail.
While at the hospital, a trooper reported that Green was talking to himself incoherently. "Green had delayed motor functions and had a 1,000-yard stare. Green had difficulty following simple instructions and struggled to answer basic questions," according to the affidavit.