Editors note: An incident which took place in March involving some high school students and some men over 18 has caused some concern among parents as to how the situation was handled by the Emery County Attorney's Office. This article is an attempt to clarify these actions.
In March 2005 some high school students on their lunch hour apparently flashed an obscene gesture to two men in the parking lot of the motel in Castle Dale on Main Street. These students then returned to school, later in the day they went outside in the school parking lot when school adjourned and found their tires had been slashed on their vehicle. They notified law enforcement, but did not wait for officers to arrive. They suspected who had slashed the tires and returned to the parking lot of the motel. They were asked to leave the parking lot by the motel maids, but they did not leave.
A crowd of high school students gathered in the parking lot. Estimates varied on the number, but between 15-20 people. The victims whose tires had been slashed were yelling and mad. One of the adults appeared in the house next door's window, holding a shot gun. The man came out of the house without the weapon, but was swinging nun-chucks around without hitting anyone. He came to the aid of his friend, the other man, who was reportedly being assaulted by five-six of the students.
A deputy arrived on the scene in the parking lot to sort out the events.
Deputy Attorney Brent Langston said, "My concern with cases like this is that situations tend to escalate from verbal exchanges, to fights with weapons. The two males who slashed the tires admitted to it and have made restitution. They have been charged with felonies.
"I am concerned with the potential for serious injury. The kids shouldn't have confronted the men who had slashed their tires on their own. They should have let law enforcement handle it. But they didn't wait, they just all gathered in the parking lot. They knew there was going to be some type of altercation or fight. I want kids to know that if they show up to witness a fight or gather when people are fighting that they have some responsibility. Serious injuries can occur which present serious consequences. Don't go and support these fights, let law enforcement handle it. The onlookers are charged with criminal trespass, because they didn't leave after they were asked to by motel personnel. Some have been charged with disorderly conduct and those participating in the fight are charged with assault.
"When you have a large group of people gather, the potential for serious problems escalate, my goal is to say let law enforcement handle these situations. All of the witnesses had no business going there to confront those men. We want to find out what went on. I am willing to meet with those involved to get the message out. I don't want this incident to go on their records and I don't want fine money or any of that. I just want kids to know, if you go somewhere to witness a fight, you could be charged. I have met with the juvenile court to work this out in the best way for everyone involved. I want kids to realize that spur of the moment decisions made in anger can have lifelong consequences. My intent is to get their attention," said Langston.
"There is a similar situation where a fight occurred in the Stewarts parking lot. A son told his dad he had been assaulted so they found the adult male who reportedly assaulted the son and a confrontation took place. The dad pulled out a knife he said to scare the other man and the man grabs the knife and is injured. Law enforcement showed up as the confrontation was taking place. The dad was charged with brandishing a weapon. This was definitely a case where the parents were not being good examples. The parents were all screaming and yelling at each other.
"This is another example of where law enforcement needs to be involved. Don't take the law into your own hands. It causes more problems," said Langston.