Troopers Make High-Risk Stop In Tooele County In Connection With California Homicide
Feb 12, 2021, 12:19 AM | Updated: 11:02 am
TOOELE, Utah – Troopers took three people into custody after a short chase on Interstate 80 in connection with a triple homicide in California, officials with the Utah Highway Patrol confirmed.
Sgt. Evan Kirby said at around 1 p.m., dispatchers in Tooele County received information from investigators with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office that two men and one woman were in their area traveling in a Toyota Highlander and possibly another vehicle.
“Highway Patrol and the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office responded to see if we could locate that vehicle and the people wanted in that investigation,” Kirby said.
Troopers found the two vehicles traveling together on I-80 and initiated a stop.
Three are in custody tonight after a triple homicide in California and a short pursuit here in Utah. ONLY @KSL5TV at 10p…EXCLUSIVE video of the arrests in Tooele County, plus the latest on the case #KSLTV #Utah pic.twitter.com/xSHZXd8tN7
— Andrew Adams (@AndrewAdamsKSL) February 12, 2021
“When troopers attempted to stop the Highlander, they didn’t stop and accelerated for a short period of time, but we had coordinated in advance with other troopers and sheriff’s deputies to set up spikes,” Kirby said. “We had the aero bureau en route with the helicopter and some troopers with a special emergency response team also on the way. When (the SUV) accelerated, we were able to get it stopped relatively quickly.”
Troopers arrested 18-year-old Mauricio Eduardo Johnson on suspicion of murder and 46-year-old Von Eric Keener on a parole warrant.
A woman was also detained. Officials with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office said she was expected to face criminal charges.
According to details shared on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, Humboldt County deputies responded Wednesday to a report of multiple victims with serious injuries inside a home on the Bear River Bend of the Rohnerville Rancheria Reservation.
Once there, deputies discovered a male and female deceased inside the home. Another injured female was still alive but later died at the hospital.
While the deaths were being characterized as homicides, the department noted that the cause of death was pending autopsy results.
Two other juveniles found inside the home were uninjured, according to the sheriff’s office.
Kirby said finding a homicide suspect on the interstate doesn’t happen “incredibly frequently.”
“Luckily we had troopers that were very well-trained in dealing with this and setting up a plan to take care of it,” Kirby said.
Mauricio Eduardo Johnson, age 18, had been identified as a suspect, on the run with parole fugitive Von Eric Keener, and a yet-to-be identified woman.
When troopers tried to stop their cars, one pulled over, the other sped up.
“But we had coordinated in advance with other troopers and sheriff’s deputies to set up spikes,” Kirby said. “And some troopers with a special emergency response team. So when they accelerated, we were able to get it stopped with spikes pretty quickly.”
KSL was there as two of the three people were loaded into Utah Highway Patrol cruisers.
“Right now we have them all three detained while we try to figure out what Humboldt County would like us to do with them,” Kirby said.
In the middle of nowhere, law enforcement says it was quite the find.
“It happens not incredibly frequently,” Kirby said. “Luckily, we had troopers that were very well trained in dealing with this and setting up a plan to take care of it.”
As far as details about that homicide in California, investigators say a male and female were found dead inside a home with unspecified injuries. Another female later died at the hospital. One of the victims was just 16. There were two juveniles inside the home who were uninjured. The cause of death for the three victims is under investigation, pending an autopsy.