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Three more arrests in botched hit probe

By Bob Mims And Jason Bergreen The Salt Lake Tribune

Published January 14, 2011 8:42 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
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Police arrested three more suspects in last Friday's alleged kidnapping and attempted murder of a Midvale man in Grantsville, including the suspected gunmen who stabbed himself in the throat when police surrounded him outside a Magna home Thursday night.

Eli Johnson walked out of an abandon home near 9100 West and 3000 South about 7:30 p.m. after members of Joint Criminal Apprehension Team [JCAT] and the Metro Gang Task Force surrounded the home. Johnson had a large pocket knife to his throat and began stabbing himself as two officers fired Tasers at him, said U.S. Marshal Supervisory Deputy Jim Phelps.

Johnson was taken to Intermountain Medical Center with a serious neck injury after the 15 minute standoff. He is expected to survive, Phelps said.

Police began looking for Johnson about 4:30 p.m. Thursday after getting a tip that he was in Magna. Officers set up a containment area and knocked on the doors of several dozen homes before locating him.

Grantsville police Lt. Steve Barrett said Cory Northrup, 31, and Derek Andrews, 20, were also arrested about 10 p.m. Wednesday as they pulled into the driveway of a Murray residence near 700 West and Winchester (6400 South).

"We had a couple of our SWAT members, JCAT officers and the Metro Gang Task Force in seven cars that pulled right in behind them," Barrett said.

The two suspects, who were being held without bail Thursday in Tooele County Jail on suspicion of attempted homicide, were quickly subdued and offered no resistance. "They weren't armed, but they didn't have much of a chance to put up much of a fight, either," Barrett said.

He would not say specifically what led to officers locating the men, other than to say it resulted from "information generated by the continuing investigation."

Late Tuesday, Michelle Gallegos, 33, also of Murray, was booked into Tooele County Jail on suspicion of conspiracy and attempted murder.

The identity of the 26-year-old target of the alleged abduction and botched hit is being withheld for his protection.

The victim told investigators that the group of five took him from his Motel 6 room in Midvale last Friday afternoon and drove him to a remote road on the outskirts of Grantsville, some 50 miles west, in his own car.

He said he was taken from the car and pushed into a field to be shot, but when the handgun jammed or misfired he bolted, jumping over a fence and breaking his ankle as he fled to a nearby house for help.

The homeowner, Robbie Fackrell , told The Salt Lake Tribune that the man fell into his front room when he opened the door, screaming that people were trying to kill him. Fackrell called police, who took the man into custody.

Officers found bullet casings and fresh tire tracks in the area, backing up the man's story about being shot at as he fled.

The man told police the group was after him because he was a witness to a crime in Cottonwood Heights.

While a connection to the kidnapping remained unconfirmed, Cottonwood Heights police have said they are looking into possible links to an incident last October where an officer sustained minor injuries after being struck by a car.

Police say that car and its suspected driver, Troy Turnbow, 30, allegedly were tracked later to a Midvale "chop shop," where stolen vehicles were being dismantled to sell their parts on the black market.

The abducted man was among several people questioned in the case, but he actually told them very little about Turnbow, Cottonwood Heights police say.

Turnbow remained in Salt Lake County Jail Thursday on $100,000 bond, charged with multiple felony counts including aggravated assault and theft. He is next due in court for scheduling hearing on Jan. 31.



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