Man who drew bow and arrow on Salt Lake City protesters is in jail, charged with three felonies

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brandon McCormick was beaten up by protesters after brandishing a bow and arrow at protest Saturday, May 30, 2020.

Brandon E. McCormick has said he showed up at Saturday’s downtown protest, armed with a bow and arrow, to protect police from unruly demonstrators.

Now the 57-year-old Taylorsville man, who has spent nearly two decades of his life behind bars in California and once was convicted of battery against a public safety officer, faces three felony counts for, widely shared video has shown, aiming his weapon at protesters.

All three counts are Utah’s lowest grade of felony. Each is punishable by up to five years in prison. McCormick was also charged with a misdemeanor count of threatening or using a weapon in a fight. That count carries up to a year in jail.

McCormick was booked into the Salt Lake County jail Thursday night after the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, which filed the charges, also asked that a warrant be issued for his arrest. Bail has been set at $100,000.

McCormick created one of the most-talked-about scenes on a day when hundreds of protesters gathered near Salt Lake City Hall and the downtown library to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and against racism and police violence. He parked his car in front of the library — on a corner where many demonstrators had gathered — and exited the vehicle.

In a posted video, McCormick, responded to a stranger who asked him if he calls himself an American with: “Yes, I’m American. All lives matter.”

The charging documents say McCormick also brandished a knife at demonstrators. He then went to the back seat of his car, the documents say, retrieved a bow and aimed an arrow at those around him. The knife and archery set appear to be the basis for two of the charges against McCormick, accusing him of being a felon in possession of a dangerous weapon.

The crowd responded by attacking McCormick and flipping his car. The vehicle was burned. Police pulled McCormick out of the melee.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters turn over a car belonging to Brandon McCormick and set it on fire. Hundreds marched in downtown Salt Lake City overturning two police cars and setting them on fire on Saturday, May 30, 2020, to protest the death of George Floyd.

Later, McCormick found himself giving an interview with FOX 13. In it, he said he was there to protect police with the weapons he had and described how he was targeted for saying “all lives matter” and beaten through his open window.

Police arrested scores of people Saturday and Sunday in relation to the protests. McCormick wasn’t one of them, though Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown promised his department would investigate McCormick. Brown asked witnesses and anyone with video to come forward.

Although prosecutors decide whether to file charges, police in Utah can arrest and book into jail anyone based on probable cause that the suspect committed a crime. Some of Saturday’s demonstrators have complained that McCormick, who is white, should have been arrested immediately.

Midvale resident Sky Montiero, who describes herself as being of mixed race, said she saw McCormick draw the bow and arrow. Failing to take him directly to jail, she said, makes the demonstrators’ point about bias at the Salt Lake City Police Department.

“He knew for two blocks that he was driving into a protest or riot or whatever you want to call it,” Montiero said. "This guy had intent to kill.”

McCormick has been sentenced to prison seven times, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The first was in 1989, when he was convicted of first-degree burglary in San Bernardino County and was sentenced to six years. He was paroled in April 1992 but returned to prison twice later that year for parole violations.

The next 22 years brought a cycle of bouncing in and out of California prisons on parole and parole violations along with a mix of new convictions.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A car belonging to Brandon McCormick burns on on 400 South near 200 East in Salt Lake City on May 30, 2020. Hundreds become aggressive in downtown Salt Lake City to protest the death of George Floyd, the man who died earlier this week after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

According to the corrections department, McCormick was convicted of attempted burglary in 1993, possession of a controlled substance in 1996 and 2000, burglary again in 2004, and theft in 2008 and 2014. All the convictions were in San Bernardino County.

McCormick was last in a California prison in 2014. In all, he served 18½ years in penitentiaries.

Thursday’s charging documents say McCormick was also convicted in San Bernardino County of a felony count of battery on a police officer or firefighter.

McCormick now lives in Taylorsville, according to public records, and has a pending case in that city’s municipal court, where he is charged with misdemeanor assault. Unified Police Department Sgt. Melody Gray on Tuesday said McCormick is the suspect in a May 5 road rage incident.

He accused a driver towing a trailer of cutting him off near 5400 South and 4015 West. McCormick, Gray said, pursued the driver to a stop light at 6200 South and 4000 West.

McCormick approached the driver’s door and pulled or nearly pulled the man out of his vehicle, Gray said. A fistfight ensued. Another driver called police. McCormick left before officers arrived, but witnesses reported McCormick’s description and license plate.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brandon McCormick shouts at protesters after he was beaten up for brandishing a bow and arrow Saturday, May 30, 2020.

Gray said officers found McCormick at his home and questioned him.

“He didn’t deny anything," Gray said.

McCormick has not yet entered a plea in the Taylorsville case, according to a court docket. An arraignment is scheduled for July 13.

Prosecutors cite the former conviction for battery against someone in public safety, the Taylorsville case and the allegations from Saturday for why they want a judge to order McCormick’s arrest.

“Because the defendant is alleged to have committed two violent offenses against random strangers in public during a short time frame,” prosecutors wrote, “the state is requesting a higher bail to assure the safety and welfare of the community.”

McCormick, whose Facebook page says he is originally from Barstow, Calif., has shared his views before on the social media website, posting racist memes and talking about wanting to go back in time to “take out” former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when they were “in the crib.”

In a May 21 post, McCormick shared with his followers that "if you didn’t grow up during the cold war and or you and or your anaesters [ancestors] are here ileagely [illegally]. You shouldn’t be alloud [allowed] to vote!!!!” (Bracketed spellings have been corrected.)