Neighbor who dialed 911 speaks after suspect fatally shot by police responding to child abuse call

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jul 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-11 16:54:47-04

PAROWAN, Utah --A man is dead as the result of an officer-involved shooting in Parowan that occurred Thursday night, and officials said the suspect pointed a gun at a police officer before he was shot.

Police were called to the 800 West block of 200 South Thursday around 9 p.m. on a report of child abuse.

According to a press release, the suspect approached the first officer from Parowan police who arrived on scene in the driveway of the home and pointed a gun at him. The officer then fired twice at the suspect, hitting him both times.

There are two houses on the property were the shooting occurred, one in the front and a smaller residence in the back. It was in that house in the back where the man who was shot by police lived.

He had a confrontation with a police officer after some people who lived in the house in front witnessed what they said was child abuse and called 911 for help.

Wesley Workman called 911 Thursday night, and he said the alleged child abuse was a regular occurrence.

“Every day. He was yelling at his son every day, and last night is when we actually seen him hit his son, and so that’s why I called the cops,” Workman said.

Workman said after he called 911, the man who lived directly behind him armed himself before confronting an officer in the driveway.

“He started lifting up his gun, and that’s when the cop shot him,” Workman said.

Police haven't yet named the suspect who was killed.

Ronnie Barner, another neighbor, said he had a “working relationship” with the suspect, who he had met more than a year ago on a job site.

“It looked like an episode of cops,” he said of Thursday night’s incident.

Another neighbor, Chris Johnson, said there were some signs of trouble, including indications of alcohol abuse.

“[The suspect was] quiet, cheerful--when he wasn't incapacitated," he said.

Others who spoke with FOX 13 News said they'd witnessed or heard the suspect abusing his family on several occasions. Some feel certain the suspect would have shot the officer, witnesses, or possibly his own family had police not intervened.

“It’s gonna be tough on his son for a while too, but I feel like his son's gonna be safer now,” Workman said.

The shooting is being investigated by the Iron County Critical Incident Task Force, as is standard procedure. The task force is made up of personnel from multiple Iron County agencies.