‘Dead tourists don’t rent UTVs’: Moab activist arrested after police say they linked him to vandalism and found guns and drugs in his home

Moab police officers say they found evidence linking the man to a $15,000 vandalism spree.

(Moab Police Department) Stickers that the Moab Police Department says they found inside the man's house after a search.

An environmental activist with an alleged history of threatening neighbors, city officials and business owners is behind bars after police raided his home and say they found illegal drugs and weapons.

In last Friday’s search, Moab police officers say they found evidence linking the man to a $15,000 vandalism spree that lasted several months and involved placing hundreds of stickers with anti-Utility Terrain Vehicles messages on signs and light posts.

Officers arrested the man on Friday, according to Moab Assistant Police Chief Lex Bell. The Salt Lake Tribune does not typically name suspects until they have been charged with a crime.

The 39-year-old, who was previously employed as a National Park Service guide and as a boatsman for private companies, has been an outspoken crusader against tourism and the noise pollution from all-terrain vehicles in Moab and Grand County.

His arrest came after camera footage surfaced on Feb. 9 of the suspect allegedly placing “UTV Noise is Child Abuse” stickers on traffic light posts on Main Street in Moab, according to the probable cause affidavit that accompanied his arrest. A witness looked at the footage the following day and identified the suspect.

Last fall the anti-UTV, tourism and noise pollution stickers began cropping up on stop signs and other public signage throughout Moab and Grand and San Juan counties. Bell said many of the stickers were affixed to signs with Gorilla glue, which had to be scraped off and often ruined the signs’ reflective surface. When you combine the cost of the signs with the paid labor expended to repair or replace them, the damage from the vandalism spree tops $15,000, the officer added.

(Moab Police Department) The police say they found several firearms inside the activist's home.

After securing a warrant, Moab officers Grand County sheriff’s deputies searched the man’s home Friday and say they found five AR-15 style rifles, one hunting rifle, one shotgun, a handgun, ammunition and a U.S. Army Guide to Guerrilla Warfare manual. “The rifles were set up around the house in different rooms as if in preparation to be quickly and easily accessed,” according to the affidavit.

Officers say they also found 10 bags of marijuana edibles, some Adderall pills, psilocybin mushrooms in three glass jars and evidence of an illegal mushroom grow operation in an upstairs bedroom. Bell said people in possession of illegal drugs are not allowed to possess firearms.

The arrest follows an eight-month investigation that began last June when then-Grand County Attorney Christina Sloan told Moab police that she had received a Facebook Messenger post from the suspect in which he threatened Epic 4×4, a Moab ATV tour business.

“I will personally murder the owners of Epic 4×4 with an ax in their homes in front of their families if they do not move their predatory abusive business away from my home by the end of the summer,” the man purportedly told Sloan according to the police report. “I have PTSD and I have a legally justifiable avenue for murder. I do not care if I am executed in retaliation for this.”

In 2022, according to the police report, a resident gave officers some papers the suspect had given to her to hang onto in case something happened to him. The papers included a card where the man said he was “declaring a war” and a flier that depicted an assault rifle and stated: “Defend your home, resist UTV noise harassment, abusive tourists & politicians take note [sic] Moab is not your whore.” A second flier adorned with an image of an assault rifle contained more slogans “Dead tourists don’t rent UTVs” and “Renting UTVs Moab hates you,” according to the probable cause statement.

The man allegedly wrote his mother last August, telling her he should murder her husband (his father) for being a “terrible parent” and deserved to never speak to either of them again and to “burn your lonely, sad multiple houses to the ground for how [expletive deleted] up and damaging that was.”

That same month, according to the police report, he is alleged to have begun harassing the National Park Service, floating a conspiracy theory that the agency murdered one of its own employees for her efforts in trying to expose a cover-up.

He allegedly demanded to be appointed a special investigator, receive accelerated law enforcement training, be given back pay and joked that if he didn’t get a suitcase full of money by Labor Day he would become a “sex worker.” The man also allegedly said he was requesting a federal sting operation of Moab political leaders, Utah’s tourism industry, and the state for “negligence, fraud, waste,” according to the affidavit.

In addition, the arresting officer stated in the affidavit, the man was interviewed by the FBI in 2018 for a Facebook post in which he reportedly “called for shooting up a National Rifle Association convention, the Republican party and Congress.” It’s not clear from the affidavit what, if anything, came from that interview.

In September, one of his longtime friends told police she had been on a six-day car trip with him to Spokane, Washington, and became increasingly alarmed over his deteriorating mental state.

She told them he talked about buying AR-15 rifles that he planned to hide or stash all over the West to “protect his family.” He also reportedly told her about plans to break into Epic 4×4 and threatened to use one of the rifles to point at a neighbor because he felt “unsafe” due to the Trump flag the man displayed outside his home.

She further alleged the man stated he planned to use automatic weapons to injure or “possibly kill people he believes are harassing and bullying him,” including Moab Mayor Joette Langianese. And she told investigators about his stash of mushrooms and other illegal drugs, according to the police report.

In her written statement to officers, according to the affidavit, the friend said “[I] seriously believe he is going to hurt or kill someone and/or himself … I want to see him get help.”

Still, despite the threats, Bell said investigators’ options were limited prior to searching his home and finding the illegal drugs.

“Initially … when these threats were made and we later received information that [he] was purchasing firearms, there wasn’t much we could do because he could legally buy firearms. That’s a constitutionally protected right, and we are not going to break the law,” said Bell, adding that the man was no longer entitled to possess firearms once the illegal drugs were discovered.

The search of the man’s home Friday uncovered nearly 5,000 of the custom-made stickers, according to Moab police. Questioned by officers, he allegedly admitted to placing some of the stickers but refused to divulge who else might be involved, according to the affidavit. His live-in girlfriend told investigators that the man told her the rifles were for use in self-defense “in an apocalypse type of situation.”

The man is being held without bail in the Grant County Jail.