CRIME

Body cameras capture sudden struggle in Tooele with ‘Proud Boys’ fugitive

May 3, 2024, 10:11 PM | Updated: 10:17 pm

TOOELE — During a recent search for a fugitive inside a home on East Bench, police said they suddenly found themselves in a potentially dangerous struggle with someone else. It was a wanted fugitive from out-of-state they had no idea was in town.

Body camera footage obtained by KSL TV captured the encounter, in which police said the man grabbed for their guns twice.

“If this was a situation where maybe we only had one or two officers there, it could be a completely different story,” Tooele City Police Cpl. Colbey Bentley said on Friday.

Map of East Bench

On April 23, according to court and jail documents, police were looking for 37-year-old fugitive Amber Pyne on an active warrant for her arrest.

When they pulled up to a home on Haylie Lane, officers said she went inside, as did another man.

Documents stated as officers searched for Pyne in the house, they spotted a man, later identified as 33-year-old Gordon Wesley Cronk, exiting a basement door. Cronk, officers wrote, told them he didn’t see Pyne when he was in the basement.

According to a probable cause statement, officers subsequently located Pyne “hidden under several boxes and random household possessions” that had been stacked on top of her.

Body camera footage documented the moment when an officer told Cronk, already in another officer’s immediate custody, that he was being placed under arrest for obstruction.

“Why?” Cronk could be heard asking in the video.

“Because you were aiding and abetting a fugitive,” the officer said.

In roughly 2 seconds, the video showed the exchange turn into an all-out struggle.

Court documents stated that Cronk grabbed onto one officer’s rifle by the handle and then later grabbed the same officer’s holstered handgun during the struggle. It lasted approximately 40 seconds, and resulted in Cronk being tazed twice.

“Knock it off!” one officer could be heard instructing Cronk after the struggle ended. “Sit down for a second!”

Tooele City Police Cpl. Colbey Bentley watching footage from the struggle (Andrew Adams, KSL TV)

According to documents, Cronk refused to tell officers his name or provide any ID. He was eventually identified via a fingerprint scanner that revealed he was wanted on two NCIC warrants, including one with nationwide extradition.

“When we started to do some more research, it does look like he’s a member of the ‘Proud Boys’ organization,” Bentley said. “(He) wasn’t even on our radar. We had no idea who he was, that there were warrants—nothing. We weren’t aware of him whatsoever.”

Documents stated that a witness told police Cronk was Pyne’s boyfriend.

Pyne was booked on suspicion of misdemeanor failure to stop at the command of law enforcement related to the April 23 incident. Documents showed that a warrant for her arrest was issued on April 16 for failing to comply with the terms of her probation in a 2021 case in which she pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge related to drug distribution.

Cronk was subsequently charged with two counts of first-degree felony disarming of a police officer of a firearm, two counts of third-degree felony assault by a prisoner, and one count of third-degree felony obstructing service of a board of pardons’ warrant or a probationer order to show cause.

His next court appearance was a scheduling conference on May 14, court records showed.

Bentley said it was fortunate there were several officers at the scene to help resolve the situation.

“Some people, when desperate enough and backed into a corner, they react like this,” Bentley said, referring to the body camera video. “The rifle is right there and readily accessible to him. If he’s able to get that and take the (safety) off, I mean, we’re talking about an entirely different situation that is pretty scary.”

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Body cameras capture sudden struggle in Tooele with ‘Proud Boys’ fugitive