Deputy injured during capture of Riverton shooting suspect speaks

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jan 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-26 09:09:57-05

NORTHERN UTAH -- A Utah County Sheriff's Deputy is recounting the moments he purposely crashed into a Riverton shooting suspect during a high speed chase, bringing an end to a five-day manhunt.

The crash led to 33-year old Justin Llewelyn's surrender.

"My entire thought process was, 'Get this guy stopped any way I can,'" Deputy Justin Mortensen said Thursday, about the moments he put an end to Wednesday's chase.

Deputy Mortensen said as he listened to the scanners Wednesday afternoon, he heard the U.S. Marshals spot Llewelyn in Provo. The sighting quickly turned into a chase, and Unified Police said Llewelyn led authorities down through Springville and into Spanish Fork.

No one knew how it was going to end.

"I knew he was armed, I knew it could go to a shootout," Deputy Mortensen said.

Llewelyn had been on the run since Saturday, when Unified Police said he fired shots at two officers when they found him trying to burglarize cars near the Riverton/Herriman border.

Police said Llewelyn then broke into a nearby home, shot the homeowner then stole his car and took off.

He hadn't been seen since, though police did arrest two of his relatives on obstruction of justice charges.

Five days later, as Deputy Mortensen pulled up to the intersection of 600 North and Main Street in Spanish Fork to join the chase, he said he could see Llewelyn driving right toward him. The street was empty, and Mortensen said he saw his opportunity.

"It was more of a split second decision, right as he entered the intersection," Mortensen recounted. "It was, 'Alright, this is it.'"

He said he turned his vehicle and hit Llewelyn nearly head-on, using sort of a PIT maneuver to stop Llewelyn.

"I heard the impact, felt the impact, the airbags go off," Mortensen said.

That propelled the truck Llewelyn was driving—later found to be stolen out of West Valley—into a parked tow truck.

Llewelyn's run was over.

Meanwhile, Mortensen said employees from Big O Tires nearby ran to help pry the door open and pull him out of the SUV.

He said he suffered soft tissue damage in his left arm and he's now wearing a sling. He pointed to scrapes on his right arm and redness on his head, where he said it hurts from the impact of the airbag.

But, overall, he said the injuries are minor and won't take too long to heal.

In his 20 years with Utah County, Deputy Mortensen said he's never done a PIT maneuver quite like this.

And he said he'd do it all over again.

"It feels good," Mortensen said. "I was able to get him stopped."

Llewelyn now faces at least eight charges in Saturday's shooting and Wednesday's chase.

He's in jail in Salt Lake County.