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Man stops to check on vehicle, finds scene of apparent murder and attempted suicide

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Posted at 3:09 PM, Feb 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-08 23:35:37-05

NORTH LOGAN, Utah – Police are investigating what appears to be an alleged murder followed by an attempted suicide in North Logan Sunday after emergency responders were dispatched to a vehicle just before midnight and found a man and woman with gunshot wounds inside.

Related story: Man suspected of fatally shooting woman in moving car before turning gun on himself has died

North Park police responded to the area of 1830 East Canyon Ridge Drive in North Logan Saturday at 11:50 p.m. after hearing report of a vehicle crash with injuries. Matt Roderick lives in the area and was driving home from a movie when he saw a car partially on the sidewalk and park strip with the engine still running.

Matt Roderick points to the area where he found a car that is the scene of an apparent murder and attempted suicide. Image courtesy Brian Champagne.

Matt Roderick points to the area where he found a car that is the scene of an apparent murder and attempted suicide. Image courtesy Brian Champagne.

“We got out of the car, and I checked on the, knocked on the window to see if they were OK, and they were not responding,” he said. “So I opened the door, and I saw that the guy was bleeding from his head, and I told the other car that pulled over to call 911.”

Roderick said he wasn’t sure what had happened at first, so he began looking around the vehicle, a white four-door Subaru, using his flashlight to find out what had occurred. He said there were two people with injuries inside, as well as a very scared animal.

“I saw that there was a gun in his hand, that was resting in his lap," he said. "...the passenger on the side was unresponsive, and I saw that the car window was broken… it looked like he had shot the girl and then shot himself, and I don't, I’m not sure if they even stopped before the shooting happened.”

Police said that it appears the vehicle was moving when the incident began, but they said the car was going at a low rate of speed. They said glass fragments, possibly from a shot out window, were found leading up to the area where the car came to a rest, suggesting at least one shot was fired through the window while the car was still moving.

Roderick said there was also, "a dog under the seat, quivering and stuff."

When police arrived, they found Amanda Lee Hoyt of North Logan, who was shot multiple times and suffered fatal injuries, in the passenger seat. Chief Kim Hawkes, North Park Police Department, said the initial report was of a possible crash with injuries, as the car was found off the road and with injured people inside.

“We determined it was not an automobile crash, really the injuries occurred because of gunshot wounds,” Hawkes said.

Christian A. Emerson of Smithfield was driving the vehicle, and Roderick said the man was bleeding from the head when he found him. Emerson was transported by ground to Cache Valley Hospital and then airlifted to a Salt Lake area hospital in critical condition. According to the press release, Emerson “is suspected of shooting Ms. Hoyt and then turning the gun on himself.”

“At least at this particular time, this looks to be like a homicide and then an attempted suicide,” Hawkes said. “At this point in time he is still alive… but we’re not sure as to his condition, as far as his status.”

Hawkes did not know the exact ages of Emerson and Hoyt but said both were born in 1988, which would make them either 26 or 27.  He said they have taken the car to a secure police impound and will search it further Monday, and they hope to speak with anyone who saw or was with the pair Saturday prior to the shooting. He said they don't know exactly what happened, and added they may never know.

“As far as the details of the sequence of events within the vehicle, we have no idea," he said. "...[Emerson] was critical, and we have no idea whether he’ll ever be in a position, or we’ll be able to interview him.”

Emerson is being treated at a hospital, and Hawkes said they would be notified if the man died but would not otherwise receive updates from the hospital on a frequent  basis. He said at this time they are letting the man's family, "work with their son in the hospital and, medical folks and that. And then we'll get updates as probably the first of this next week."

Roderick said it was a surreal experience and not how he planned to end the night. He said at one point he even moved the gun out of fear for the safety of the man holding it as well as others.

“When I saw the gun, I just pulled it out of his hand, he was waking up a little, so I didn’t know if he intended to use it if he was to wake up,” he said. “So, I pulled the gun out of his hand and put it on to the street and kind of just stayed nearby until the cops came, so if he came to he wouldn’t be able to get to the gun and, I don't know, hurt somebody else.”

Hawkes said events like this are uncommon in their community.

“This is, I cannot imagine as a parent receiving a call or a visit at the front door in the middle of the night with the message that we had to deliver to Amanda’s family, and we send to them our heartfelt condolences for this tragedy," he said.

The Hoyt family released a statement later in the week regarding the death of their loved one:

“Amanda's life was renewed June 2014 following a double transplant after a life long battle with diabetes. She had a bright outlook on life and was looking forward to a future as a nurse. Amanda had such a kind heart and will be terribly missed. Our family has been devastated by this tragic event and our thoughts are with Christian's family at this time. We appreciate the outpouring of community support and the continued respect of our privacy as we mourn the loss of Amanda.”

He said few details are clear at this time but the case is under investigation.

“We’re tasked with trying to piece together the little bits of puzzle that are there and try to find some answers to this tragic event, so that’s what we’re trying do to right now," he said.

Additional reporting by Brian Champagne.