A wild manhunt that stretched from Juab County to Millard County involving a stolen police vehicle that ended in a crash and a shootout with officers, all started with a large drug bust, police say.
James Klein, 32, was taken into custody after officers reported finding him hiding either near or in the Sevier River. He was taken to a local hospital to be treated for an undisclosed injury, according to police. Investigators have not confirmed whether Klein was injured during the exchange of gunfire with officers.
The incident began about 4 p.m. Wednesday with a traffic stop on I-15 in Juab County.
Klein was with Jennifer Huang, 43, according to a jail booking affidavit. Both are from Minnesota.
Juab County sheriff’s deputies developed evidence after the traffic stop that “a large amount of illegal narcotics was concealed inside the vehicle,” the affidavit states.
While full details of how many people were injured and to what extent still had not been released as of late Thursday afternoon, police say that Klein, who was interviewed by officers in the passenger seat of a patrol car, somehow gained control of the vehicle.
“The patrol vehicle was subsequently stolen by the male suspect and involved in a shooting involving several civilian victims and multiple officers,” according to the affidavit.
Utah Highway Patrol troopers chased Klein for two miles and gunfire was exchanged at a freeway exit, with multiple shots striking troopers’ vehicles, though they were not injured, according to police. Officers from numerous agencies then assisted in tracking down Klein after he ran from the crashed patrol vehicle.
The I-15 freeway was shut down for hours during the incident.
Klein “fired several rounds toward both law enforcement officers and civilians, causing serious injury,” the affidavit states.
Investigators served a search warrant on Klein and Huang’s vehicle and found 9 pounds of methamphetamine in the trunk, according to the affidavit. Police say a backpack with marijuana and a gun with the serial number filed off were also located.
Huang was arrested for investigation of drug possession with intent to distribute, marijuana possession, giving false ID to police, possession of a weapon by a restricted person, altering a number on a gun, having a loaded firearm on the street, and drug possession in a correctional facility after police found he still had drugs in her possession when he was booked into the Juab County Jail.
Updated information on Klein’s condition was not immediately known on Thursday.