Utah woman shot at end of high-speed chase in fair condition
Jail break • Ex-con, on way back to jail, allegedly took police car at gunpoint.
Published: November 21, 2012 10:29AM
Updated: November 21, 2012 12:18PM
image
Joann Boone. (Courtesy KUTV 2 News).

A St. George woman was upgraded to fair condition and remained under guard Wednesday, two days after she was shot by a Washington County sheriff’s deputy at the end of her high-speed bid for freedom in a stolen police vehicle.

Joann Boone, a 48-year-old ex-con, collapsed after being shot in the hip during a brief standoff with law officers at a Hurricane Chevron station. Just moments before, she allegedly had attempted to force her way into a another vehicle in the station’s parking lot, sending its male owner in flight as deputies, area police and Utah Highway Patrol troopers closed in.

According to Barry Golding, a county attorney investigator, Boone was picked up by St. George police about 6 p.m. Monday on two no-bail arrest warrants for parole violations issued by Nevada, and a warrant issued by the Hurricane City Justice Court.

Boone was searched before she was placed in a K-9 police SUV, but when the officer pulled into the Washington County Jail parking lot in Hurricane and opened the back door, she emerged pointing a gun at the then-unarmed officer. She held the gun behind her back in her handcuffed hands, Golding said.

“She had managed to secret the gun, a small-caliber semi-automatic, on her person and officer just missed it during the search,” Golding said. “The officer had secured his service weapon with the jail, in preparation for entering, and when he returned to let the suspect out that’s when she pointed the handgun at him.”

Golding said Boone ordered the officer to “back off, and he did ... She hopped over into the driver’s seat.”

The officer ran to retrieve his weapon, but by the time he returned, Boone had slipped her still-handcuffed hands down past her hips and over her legs and was crashing it through the closed rolling door of the jail’s sally port.

“The keys were in the ignition,” Golding confirmed, noting that since the officer’s dog was in the back of the police Ford Explorer, it was not unusual to keep the truck’s heater on in cold weather.

Boone sped into La Verkin, then onto Interstate 15 and then south. A UHP trooper spread road spikes that blew out the tires on the stolen police car. Nonetheless, Boone continued onto State Road 9 and drove into Hurricane again, screeching to a stop at the gas station at 40 N. 6300 West.

She pulled up next to 29-year-old Bryan Searle, who was texting his ex-wife on his cellphone when he was stunned by a flood of sirens, police cars pulling in to surround his red Volkswagen Jetta and the stolen police car.

Boone dashed to the passenger side of Searle’s car and tried unsuccessfully to open the door as police officers, pistols drawn, barked orders to Searle to get out and run.

“I got about three steps when I heard the gunshots,” Searle said, remembering at least two loud pops as he hit the ground. Confused, late-arriving police initially arrested and handcuffed Searle, but freed him after a few minutes when they confirmed he was an innocent bystander.

No officers were hurt, but Boone, reportedly conscious and screaming, was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, where she underwent surgery. She was initially listed in serious condition but upgraded to fair late Wednesday morning, hospital spokeswoman Terri Draper said Wednesday.

Authorities expected it could be early next week before she is recovered enough to be released and booked into jail.

Golding confirmed that examination of Boone’s weapon showed that she had fired one of the two shots Searle reported hearing. He said the investigation continued into the incident, as well as what charges will be filed against Boone.

A search of court documents shows Boone has a criminal record stretching back more than a dozen years that includes felony convictions for drug possession, theft, forgery burglary and retail theft. In 1999, and again in 2004, Boone was sentenced to one-to-15-year terms at the Utah State Prison.

Golding said she was in custody at the hospital, under guard by police officers.

remims@sltrib.com