Convicted killer accused of hitting 2 Unified officers faces federal weapons charge

An indictment handed down by a federal grand jury against a convicted killer accused of hitting two Unified police officers over the weekend has been unsealed.

An indictment handed down by a federal grand jury against a convicted killer accused of hitting two Unified police officers over the weekend has been unsealed. (Jinga, Shutterstock)

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — A wanted fugitive previously convicted for killing a man, who was arrested over the weekend after allegedly injuring two officers in South Salt Lake while trying to escape, is facing a federal weapons charge.

Tyson Yellowbear, 39, was arrested Saturday for investigation of attempted murder and aggravated assault targeting law enforcement.

Officers from the Metro Gang Unit were out that night looking for Yellowbear, who was wanted on a federal warrant. According to court records, a federal grand jury indicted Yellowbear on May 22 with being a felon in possession of a gun in an alleged incident on April 11. The indictment was then sealed as officers looked for Yellowbear to arrest him. The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday.

Saturday afternoon, officers from the gang unit were in the area of 250 E. Helm Street when they spotted Yellowbear and watched as he got into a truck in a parking lot, according to a police booking affidavit. Police attempted to use a spike strip to deflate Yellowbear's tires to prevent him from getting away, the affidavit states.

But as an officer was attempting to deploy the device, Yellowbear allegedly steered toward him and accelerated and hit the officer, "causing him to be thrown over the hood and across the street. The victim officer was hit with such force that it broke the connector to his police radio and knocked the pistol magazines out of his ballistic vest," according to the affidavit.

The officer was taken to a local hospital to be treated for undisclosed injuries. Unified police on Wednesday said the officer has since been released and is "doing well."

Yellowbear continued to flee after hitting the first officer, driving into oncoming traffic in an attempt to get away. A second officer "rammed" Yellowbear's vehicle with his patrol car to stop him, the affidavit states. That officer "sustained serious injures which will require surgery" due to the collision, according to the affidavit. Police say the surgery is minor, however, and will be conducted at a later date. The second officer was also released from the hospital on Saturday.

After the collision with the second officer, Yellowbear got out of his vehicle and attempted to run away but was ultimately taken into custody after fighting with police, the affidavit states.

Among Yellowbear's prior crimes, he was convicted of criminal homicide by assault and aggravated assault, both third-degree felonies, for the 2006 shooting death of one man and critical injuries of a second man at a party in South Salt Lake. He originally was charged with murder, a first-degree felony, and attempted murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charges.

Yellowbear first arrived at the Utah State Prison in June of 2007. He was paroled on Nov. 26, 2013. But a warrant was issued for his arrest in February of 2014 after he committed several parole violations. He was arrested in March of 2014 following another confrontation with the Metro Gang Unit.

Most recently in 3rd District Court, Yellowbear was charged in January with burglary, a second-degree felony, on the accusation of breaking into a Salt Lake City house while armed, according to charging documents. He was released from custody to pretrial services in February, court records state. But a warrant was issued for his arrest soon after he allegedly failed to comply with the rules of his release, according to court records.

The warrant remained outstanding until April 12 when he was taken into custody again. But by his next hearing on May 14, he had already been released from jail and failed to show up to court, according to court records.

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


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