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17-year-old girl charged as adult in Utah deputies' shootings

Published February 19, 2014 7:31 am

Attack • One officer died, another wounded.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After Jose Angel Garcia-Jauregui was shot in the head by police last month — following a two-county shooting spree and chase that left one officer dead and another seriously injured — the wounded 27-year-old man was focused on his 17-year-old girlfriend, who allegedly had been driving while Garcia-Jauregui fired at police officers.

"You're not going to let me kiss my girl with my last dying breath?" Garcia-Jauregui asked police after they handcuffed him on Interstate 15 in Juab County.

For her part, the teen, Meagan Dakota Grunwald, was upset at police for wounding Garcia-Jauregui.

"You f—-ing shot him!" she yelled at the officers while she laid on the ground at the officers' command.

The scenario was revealed in documents filed Tuesday in 4th District Court charging Grunwald as an adult with aggravated murder and 13 other criminal counts related to the fatal crime spree.

According to the charging documents, Grunwald and Garcia-Jauregui had been living together for several months at the teen's mother's home in Draper before the shooting. Witnesses told police that the teen is pregnant with Garcia-Jauregui's child, and that the two planned to wed when she turned 18 in August and were planning to move to Mexico, according to the documents.

Garcia-Jauregui died at a local hospital on Jan. 31, a day after he allegedly shot and killed Utah County Sgt. Cory Wride and injured Deputy Greg Sherwood.

Grunwald is scheduled to make an initial appearance in court in Provo next Monday. She is currently being held at the Utah County jail on $1 million cash-only bail.

The charges filed against Grunwald include aggravated murder, two counts of felony discharge of a firearm, two counts of attempted aggravated murder, and aggravated robbery — all first-degree felonies. She was also charged with felony obstructing justice, failure to respond to an officer, possession or use of a controlled substance and lesser charges of felony discharge of a firearm, along with misdemeanor criminal mischief and violation of operator duties after an accident.

The deadly shooting spree began at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 30, Wride exited his patrol car to check on a pulled-over Toyota Tundra pickup truck with flashers blinking on State Road 73 between Eagle Mountain and Cedar Fort. He spoke with Garcia-Jauregui and Grunwald, who was driving the truck.

Grunwald gave the sergeant her driver's license, but Garcia-Jauregui gave Wride a false name. As Wride returned to his car and began searching police databases for information about Garcia-Jauregui, Grunwald put the truck in drive, but left her foot on the brake, according to court documents, which rely on the officer's dash cam video. About four minutes after Grunwald put the vehicle into drive, Garcia-Jauregui opened the back sliding window of the truck and began shooting at Wride. He fired seven shots at the sergeant's car, according to police documents. Two rounds struck and killed Wride.

Police believe Grunwald was still driving the truck when she fled south and encountered Utah County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Sherwood in Santaquin.

As Sherwood was following the truck in his patrol vehicle, prosecutors allege the teen girl braked suddenly — closing distance between her truck and Sherwood's vehicle — while Garcia-Jauregui fired from the back window of the truck once more. Sherwood was struck once in the head.

Grunwald continued to drive south on Interstate 15, according to prosecutors, when a Utah Highway Patrol trooper attempted to pull over the truck. Again, Garcia-Jauregui fired out the back window of the truck, but the trooper was not hit. Eventually, Grunwald's truck hit spike strips deployed by officers in Juab County. After the tires were spiked, Garcia-Jauregui allegedly fired toward a semi truck, damaging three tires. As the semi truck's tires were shot out, Grunwald crashed her truck into another vehicle, according to court documents.

Grunwald allegedly continued to drive the vehicle until she reached Main Street in Nephi, where the truck broke down. Garcia-Jauregui and Grunwald then ran from the truck, according to court documents, and when two Juab County Sheriff's deputies ordered the two to stop, Garcia-Jauregui shot his gun twice toward deputies and continued to flee.

Court documents allege Grunwald then flagged down a Toyota Highlander, and jumped into the passenger side as Garcia-Jauregui fired once more at deputies. Garcia-Jauregui ordered the female driver out the car at gunpoint. The woman barely had time to take her child from the backseat before Garcia-Jauregui sped off in the car with Grunwald in the passenger seat, and continued to drive south, according to court records.

Law enforcement once again laid out spike strips on southbound I-15. Garcia-Jauregui hit the spikes, then drove across the center dividing strip into oncoming traffic, causing a traffic accident. Garcia-Jauregui ran from the stolen Highlander — with Grunwald not far behind — and attempted to car jack the vehicle he had just hit, but that driver sped off.

Garcia-Jauregui then pointed his gun at four Juab County Sheriff's deputies, who all fired toward the man. Garcia-Jauregui was struck once in the head, according to court documents.

Grunwald was taken into police custody after Garcia-Jauregui was arrested. The teen's urine tested positive for methamphetamine, according to court records.

Inside the Toyota Tundra, which is owned by Grunwald and her mother, according to charging documents, investigators found 11 .40-caliber shell casings.

A woman who identified herself as Grunwald's grandmother, but who refused to give her name, said Tuesday that Garcia-Jauregui brought considerable conflict into the family. The woman recalled that in January a fight ensued at the family's home in Draper. Meagan Grunwald pushed her father, Jerry Grunwald, out of a wheel chair and at some point Garcia-Jauregui pulled out a gun, the woman said. She added that Garcia-Jauregui pointed the gun at Jerry Grunwald.

The woman also said she clashed with Meagan Grunwald's mother over allowing Garcia-Jauregui to live at the family's home. Both the woman and Jerry Grunwald wanted Garcia-Jauregui gone, she said, but Meagan Grunwald's mother allowed him to stay.

The woman did not have contact with Meagan Grunwald or Garcia-Juaregui after the fight. Instead, she has watched the story unfold in the media, which she said has been difficult.

"It's been hell," she said.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller