ST. GEORGE — A Utah man accused of trying to steal a bus was arrested on multiple charges.

2022 file photo for illustrative purposes only shows police officers at the scene on South Bluff Street in St. George, Utah, on March 8, 2022 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Shortly before 1 p.m. on Monday, officers were dispatched to a shuttle terminal parking lot on South Bluff Street after the St. George Communications Center received a call from a bus driver who said a man on the bus appeared to be intoxicated and refused to exit. 

The driver said the suspect was chasing him through the parking lot, according to charging documents filed with the court. 

While en route, officers received an update indicating the suspect was allegedly trying to steal a bus.  

Patrol units arrived to find a man matching the description of the suspect standing next to one of the buses with his hands in the air and appearing agitated, the report states.

The suspect was detained while officers spoke to the driver. 

Officers learned that shortly before the 911 call, the driver had pulled into the parking lot on Bluff Street where several passengers disembarked, and seconds later, the suspect boarded the bus and sat down in one of the front seats. The man remained seated, despite repeated requests by the driver to exit the bus.  

The suspect “finally exited the bus,” and as the driver was pulling away, the suspect reportedly gave chase, causing the driver to stop the bus to avoid hitting the man.

Minutes later, the suspect boarded a second bus parked in the parking lot, which is when the complainant saw the brake lights flash on, indicating the suspect was attempting to start the bus, the report alleges. 

The suspect purportedly did not know the procedure to start the engine, however, and he abandoned the plan and exited the shuttle. From there, he proceeded to stand in front of the second bus which prevented the driver from pulling forward. 

The suspect Russell James McDougall, 53, of West Jordan, reportedly admitted to officers during an interview that he boarded the second bus and tried to start it with “the intention of taking it and driving home to Salt Lake City,” the officer noted. 

The plan was foiled when he was unable to start the bus, he said, going on to explain he had no idea how he arrived at the bus stop in St. George. When officers found a casino player’s card in the name of someone else, the suspect said the card belonged to a roommate, but said he could not remember his name. 

McDougall also told officers “it was the drugs” and said he used methamphetamine and marijuana. 

A criminal background check revealed that McDougall was a convicted felon with 16 arrests across Utah since 1994 that included convictions involving assault, DUI, drug distribution, domestic violence and other crimes.

The suspect was arrested and booked into jail in Washington County on suspicion of second-degree felony theft of a vehicle and a third-degree felony count of unlawful acquisition of a financial card. He also faces one count each of threatening breach of peace of a bus, obstructing the operation of a bus and public intoxication, each a misdemeanor.  

The suspect remains in custody on $10,000 bail.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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