Police: Man arrested after multiple carjackings, crashes along I-80

Nov 4, 2022, 8:19 AM | Updated: 6:43 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — One person has been taken into custody after a series of incidents that started with an alleged carjacking at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

The Salt Lake City Police Department said its investigation started at approximately 5 a.m. Friday when its airport division received reports of an upset traveler at a ticket counter.

The suspect, identified as 20-year-old John Joseph Thomas Green, became upset and combative with airline employees after he could not purchase a same-day ticket to Denver.

Police originally reported that Green was told his flight to Denver had been canceled. However, airport officials said no flights were canceled Friday morning and Green did not have an existing reservation.

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said Green had gone up to the United Airlines ticket counter where he wanted a ticket and didn’t get one, which pushed him over the edge.

Police say that’s when officers responded, Green left the area and went to the airport pick-up area, where he carjacked an SUV. The SUV’s driver was not injured.

Green then drove the stolen SUV to the area of 900 W. 2100 South where he crashed into a small silver car. Police said Green then attempted a U-turn and crashed into a BMW SUV.

Neither driver was injured, but officers said Green attempted to force the woman who was driving the BMW out of her SUV.

However, the woman’s seat belt kept her in the vehicle, and she fought back.

“She was fighting back with him,” said SLCPD spokesperson Brent Weisberg. “…This woman had her seat belt on and he was actually trying to forcibly pull her from her car to steal her SUV. He ultimately gave up and took off in the initial car he stole at the airport.”

Salt Lake City police respond to 900 W. 2100 South after a crash and attempted carjacking. (SLCPD)

Green then headed east on 2100 South toward South Salt Lake.

“This car came flying up behind us,” Susan Smith recounted.

She pulled over. Then Green pulled in front of her, stopped, and charged at her SUV while she had an Uber passenger on board.

“His face, he was very angry,” she said. “He was very contorted and he was running at us with purpose.”

That purpose — to steal her car.

“He was grabbing for the door and the panel of the door behind me, trying to open the car,” Smith said.

Her doors were locked, so she drove off.

A few blocks away, Green crashed into another car and nearly hit a building at 2860 S. West Temple.

After the crash, Green exited the stolen SUV and stole a black Dodge Durango after forcing the driver out of the vehicle.

“He stole that car at gunpoint,” Weisberg said.

Salt Lake City police say Green then got onto Interstate 80 and started heading east toward Parleys Canyon.

Sgt. Cameron Roden with the Utah Highway Patrol said troopers received reports of up to five crashes, one of them a rollover crash, caused by the Durango, which was driving recklessly in Salt Lake and Summit counties.

The Durango crashed and became disabled near milepost 149 on I-80, just east of the U.S. Highway 40 junction in Summit County.

“At that point, our deputies had no idea what was going on,” said Capt. Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Two deputies with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office located Green and immediately intervened.

“While deputies investigated one of the crashes, they heard (Green) throwing rocks at passing cars on I-80, trying to get them to stop,” Salt Lake City police said.

(Utah Highway Patrol) (Utah Highway Patrol) (Utah Highway Patrol) (Utah Highway Patrol) (Utah Highway Patrol) (Utah Highway Patrol)

Roden said Green tried to carjack some vehicles on the eastbound side, but he was unsuccessful. Green then moved to the westbound side and threw rocks at passing vehicles, trying to get them to stop.

Summit County deputies saw Green trying to carjack a fourth vehicle — a Toyota Tacoma — but the Tacoma’s driver pulled his keys out of the ignition, preventing Green from taking the vehicle.

“That driver was smart enough to realize there was more going on,” Wright said. “He took the key out of the ignition so the suspect couldn’t continue on.”

Deputies pulled Green from the Tacoma and took him into custody at approximately 6:15 a.m. Friday.

Eastbound I-80 was closed for approximately 20 minutes and had lane restrictions in the area while investigators were on scene.

Two people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in two of the I-80 crashes and were transported to area hospitals, according to Roden. No other injuries were reported by authorities.

Green was taken to an area hospital for evaluation and police said he will be booked into the Summit County Jail on several felony charges.

Salt Lake City police said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office and South Salt Lake Police Department are assisting in the investigation. Impairment is being investigated in this incident.

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Police: Man arrested after multiple carjackings, crashes along I-80