SALT LAKE CITY — While Monday night’s protests in downtown Salt Lake City ended much more peacefully than Saturday night, the situation may have been drastically different if not for the investigative efforts of West Valley police and the FBI.
“They probably saved a lot of lives,” said West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku.
Two men with numerous weapons who were allegedly on their way to the protests in Salt Lake City were arrested Monday. Four weapons — including an AK-47 and an Uzi with a silencer attached — were recovered from a vehicle, Vainuku said.
In the home of Yuri Neves Silva, 27, of West Valley City, more weapons were found and seized.
Information about a potential motive was not immediately available, but police believe the two were headed to the protests to cause trouble.
“We had every reason to believe that’s what they intended to do,” Vainuku said.
Silva had posted “multiple threats of violence against police, specifically Salt Lake City police and West Valley City police” over social media and “encouraged others to take up arms against police as well, and had reportedly listed the names and addresses of specific officers to be targeted,” she said.
Silva was arrested for investigation of making a terroristic threat. Police say Silva was making multiple posts about harming police officers and was seen in one picture holding a gun, according to a police affidavit.
“In one video posted on (Sunday), the suspect made a video showing himself mocking the Salt Lake City curfew, stating, ‘Hands up don’t shoot,’” while also threatening to kill police officers, the affidavit states.
“The suspect also mentions a police officer who resides in his neighborhood and comments, ‘You put that cop car in the garage real quick play boi,’” according to the affidavit.
Four additional firearms were found in Silva’s home, police said.
“The suspect denied wanting to shoot police officers but admitted his Facebook posts were intended to incite people,” the affidavit states.
Christian Hernandez, 27, of Magna, was also in the car with Silva at the time of his arrest.
“The suspect admitted he was headed to the current protests in Salt Lake City,” police wrote in an affidavit.
Hernandez was arrested for investigation of possession of a firearm by a restricted person and drug possession.
In Salt Lake City at the state Capitol and the streets around the Salt Lake City-County Building, most of the arrests Monday were for failing to obey the city’s mandatory 8 p.m. curfew. But at least one protester was arrested for having a loaded gun, according to police.
As the crowd moved north on 300 East, Dyujay “began to strike the ground with a golf club” and then “threw a water bottle and rocks, hitting officers on the crowd control line. (He) was yelling and inciting the crowd to not follow orders to disperse,” according to a police booking affidavit.
Dyujay ran off, and then got into a car and tried to drive away but was stopped by police. He then ran to a nearby parking structure where he was arrested. Officers found a loaded .380 handgun in Dyujay’s pocket,
That was the most serious arrest from Monday night. The Deseret News counted at least 17 arrests, though Salt Lake police were still tallying the total number on Tuesday.
Morgan Burns Pitcher, 24, was also arrested for investigation of failing to disperse and violating curfew when he was given a 15-minute warning to leave the Capitol grounds but did not, another police affidavit says.
Noel Boyohit Lokiru, 20, of Salt Lake City, was arrested for investigation of failing to disperse and interfering with an arresting officer after police say he “remained unlawfully in an active riot” but then tried to run once police attempted to arrest him.
Adman Warren Eugene, 39, was arrested for investigation of failing to disperse and interfering with an arresting officer after police say he did not leave the Capitol grounds as ordered and then tried to interfere with an officer making an arrest. That officer sustained “several scrapes and abrasions to his hands and arms,” a police affidavit states.
Others arrested for suspicion of failing to disperse included Keita K. Pantaleon, 33; Deysi Radilla-Marintez, 19; Michael Kennion Brown, 21; Taylar Brooke Jackson, 26; Harland Eldredge, 27; Kayla Jewell Villamor, 27; Jason Spencer Vance, 38; Benjamin Noah Soto, 20; Steve Jonathan Rosales, 29; Destiny Julisa Romero, 21; Charlotte May Jones, 22; Jemal Ruben Knowles, 50; and Mikaeli Rose Lechuga, 22.
Salt Lake police said two juvenile teens who were violating curfew and failing to disperse were also cited at the scene Monday night.
In another case, Samuel M. Hubble, 30, was arrested for investigation of possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault and having a loaded firearm on the street. That investigation began about 7 p.m. when a Utah Transit Authority police officer heard a gunshot coming from the area of 200 South and 300 East. He then spotted a man carrying an AR-15 near a residence, according to a police affidavit.
“At the time the firearm was fired, Salt Lake City was the site of several protests with hundreds of people occupying the city streets,” the affidavit notes.
Officers detained Hubble, searched his house and found “a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 .223-caliber rifle on the inside of the front door,” according to the affidavit. The gun was loaded.
But by Monday night, the chapter released another statement thanking the mayor for making things right.
“We asked her to call injured officers, and she has begun to do so. We asked her to keep officers’ safety as a priority, and she said as much in justifying the ongoing curfew. We asked her to show humility in the face of the sacrifices agencies and officers made, and she has penned a letter to valley chiefs, thanking them for their willingness to immediately send their officers into harm’s way when asked to do so. We sincerely thank Mayor Mendenhall for being willing to make public safety a priority, and to move ahead together to secure the stability and quality of life that make this state such an amazing place.”