This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A man apparently enraged over a breakup allegedly shot and killed his ex-girlfriend Sunday night as she screamed inside her car in an American Fork parking lot, pleading for help from a 911 dispatcher.
The 33-year-old man, James Dean Smith, who was the subject of an earlier protective order obtained by the 39-year-old victim, Sue Ann Sands, died a short time later in a gunfire-punctuated confrontation with police.
American Fork police Lt. Gregg Ludlow confirmed Sands was found dead inside her Volkswagen Beetle just moments after her frantic 7:26 p.m. 911 call from the parking lot of a Wal-Mart at 949 W. Grassland Drive.
Multiple gunshots had been fired through the front-passenger window, one striking Sands in the head.
She was dead at the scene, but information she and other 911 callers provided in her final seconds of life helped police quickly locate Smith and his silver Chevrolet Tahoe outside the Gordmans store at 219 Meadow Lane.
"The suspect fled police and led them on a chase for about two minutes. He ultimately stopped in the parking lot directly in front of a Cinemark theater [715 W. Main St.]," Ludlow stated. "An American Fork officer, a Lehi officer and a Utah County sheriff's deputy confronted the suspect and saw he had a handgun."
When Smith refused demands to drop the gun, all three law officers fired. However, it remained undetermined Monday whether Smith pointed or fired the weapon at police, and whether he died from officers' bullets or fatally shot himself.
Less than 10 minutes passed between the time Sands was found deceased and Smith's deadly confrontation with police.
Despite emergency medical aid from police, paramedics and the crew of a LifeFlight medical helicopter, Smith was pronounced dead at the scene 8:07 p.m., Ludlow said.
Police said Monday that Smith, of Orem, and Sands, of American Fork, had co-habitated for a period of time.
Events on Sunday night began when Sands, who was at work in the vicinity of the Meadows Retail area, stepped outside, possibly on a break.
Security video from outside Sands' place of employment shows that she received a phone call and then calmly walked to her vehicle and left the business in her vehicle, police said in a statement.
Police believe that Sands then met up with Smith at another nearby business a couple of blocks away.
"A very short time later witnesses reported hearing shots being fired," police said in a statement. "Ms. Sands fled in her vehicle and a chase ensued through the retail area, ending in the Wal-Mart parking lot where Mr. Smith used his vehicle to repeatedly ram Ms. Sands vehicle as well as firing rounds at her vehicle and hitting her."
Fourth District Court records show that Sands was granted a temporary protective order against Smith on Nov. 9.
But police said the protective order was not served on Smith until Nov. 21, apparently when he was arrested by American Fork police for allegedly driving drunk. Smith posted bail and was due back in court for arraignment on Dec. 21, court records show.
Ludlow also said American Fork officers had been on the lookout for Smith for the past week and a half, stemming from property damage and stalking allegations filed by Sand's family.
Parallel investigations into the shootings were being conducted by the Utah County attorney's office, the sheriff's office, and the American Fork and Lehi police departments.
The officers involved, who were unhurt, were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the reviews.
Except for the DUI, Smith's prior criminal record consists of only a handful of traffic violations.
Sands earlier this year pleaded no contest to a class B misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to probation and ordered to complete a substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
Ludlow said police were reviewing surveillance video from the many businesses in the area. But police also would like to hear from anyone who saw any part of the crime. They are asked to call AFPD at 801-763-3020.