Salt Lake City, UT – Two Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputies were shot during a gunfight with an armed fugitive outside of the jail on April 10.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the gunfight occurred at about 10:29 a.m. in front of the sheriff’s department building located at 3300 S. 900 West, KUTV reported.
Sheriff Rivera said Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies Joshua Buerke and Leland Grossett were patrolling the front lawn of the sheriff’s department building when they spotted 31-year-old Joshua Michael Johnson in a grassy area by the parking lot.
Johnson opened fire on the deputies and a gunfight ensued.
Deputy Buerke was shot in the cheek and Deputy Grossett was shot in the eye, KUTV reported.
Johnson was struck by deputies’ return fire and died at the scene.
The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office said both deputies are expected to survive but doctors were unable to save Deputy Grossett’s eye, KUTV reported.
Sheriff Rivera said she didn’t know if both deputies had fired their weapons or how many shots were fired.
Johnson’s motive for shooting the deputies was unknown, but court records showed that he was a fugitive at the time of his death.
Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) records showed that corrections agents said Johnson left his residential treatment program without permission in February, KUTV reported.
Staff at the Odyssey House treatment center reported his disappearance “against clinical advice” to AP&P agents on Feb. 3.
It was against the terms of Johnson’s parole to leave the treatment facility without permission, KUTV reported.
“[Johnson] had received a phone call from his mother, who reported his stimulus check had arrived, but his brother had cashed it. Additionally, [Johnson] was adamant he needed to leave the facility immediately and was escorted to the door,” parole records showed.
AP&P agents contacted Johnson’s family but they claimed not to be aware he had checked himself out of Odyssey House, KUTV reported.
Court records showed the Johnson’s probation stemmed from multiple drug arrests.
In January of 2019, Johnson was put on a 36-month probation that he violated in March of 2019, KUTV reported.
Court records showed he was sentenced to 180 days in the Salt Lake County Jail and was again released on probation in November of 2019.
Johnson violated parole in December of 2019 and was a fugitive until he was arrested again in June of 2020, KUTV reported.
On that occasion, court records showed he served 47 days before he was released.
He was arrested by Salt Lake City Police on North Temple Street in January on drug-dealing charges, KUTV reported.
Records didn’t show that he accrued new charges after that arrest but instead, he was released into the Odyssey House treatment facility.
“Mr. Johnson is now actively refusing to comply with probation. He has never cooperated with AP&P and continues to show a blatant disregard for the privilege of probation,” AP&P Agent Andrew Johnson wrote in a Feb. 19 report. “As these continuing actions constitute the fifth breach of probation and further proof he is a poor candidate for probation. AP&P respectfully request the court unsuccessfully terminate probation, and impose the original sentence of prison.”
A judge signed an order to revoke Johnson’s parole the same day, KUTV reported.
Court records didn’t show any additional contact between Johnson and law enforcement between his departure from Odyssey House and the gun battle on the lawn of the sheriff’s building.
The deputy-involved shooting remains under investigation, The Washington Post reported.