ST. GEORGE — A suspect was arrested after a witness called 911 reporting a burglary at a restaurant on Telegraph Street in Washington City. The report turned out to be a suspect attempting to access a gateway into the pharmacy next door when investigators found a large hole in the wall separating two businesses.

File photo for illustrative purposes only of Washington City Police officers responding to an incident on Telegraph in Washington City, Utah, Oct. 22, 2021 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

On Thursday, officers responded to a restaurant in the 500 block of West Telegraph in Washington City shortly after 3 a.m. A witness told emergency dispatchers there was broken glass in front of the business and two suspects inside of the building.

The suspects, the caller stated, were wearing all black, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest.

Responding officers arrived to find a black male that matched the clothing description “walking swiftly” through the Sonic restaurant parking lot heading south.

Officers also noticed the suspect was wearing black working gloves not typically used to keep warm, as well as a bandana around his neck that led them to believe it could be used “to cover his face when needed.” 

The suspect was stopped and detained by police. He was identified as a California man, 27-year-old Darnell Price Jr., of Victorville, approximately 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, officers at the scene entered the restaurant and found what appeared to be a fresh hole in a kitchen wall that appeared to lead from the restaurant into a neighboring business — Stucki Family Pharmacy.

Officers suspected the intruders had broken into the restaurant to gain access to the pharmacy, similar to recent burglaries in which suspects had broken into one business through the wall of another. Detectives were called out to process the scene, where they found a large glass door at the west entrance shattered. 

File photo of Washington City Police Department headquarters in Washington City, Utah, March 21, 2023 | Photo by Vin Cappiello, St. George News

While viewing the shop’s security footage, detectives watched as one of the suspects, donned in dark clothing with his face covered, entered the building  through the shattered door with a flashlight as he crawled through the business on his hands and knees towards the kitchen area. 

After the suspect was transported to the Washington City Police Department for questioning, he invoked his right to remain silent. When told he was under investigation for the burglary, he denied any involvement, according to the report.

The detective also noted that Price was wearing clothing that matched what detectives viewed in the security footage, as well as what was reported by the witness.

Additionally, the report states, the suspect “had no legitimate reason to be in the area as there are no businesses open at these early morning hours.”

A background check of the suspect revealed multiple arrests and convictions in California, including cases involving burglary, theft, possession of burglary tools, firearms and other related incidents. 

Based on the clothing match, and that Price was seen quickly leaving the immediate area just after the burglary was reported, in addition to his criminal history in his home state, Price was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and booked into jail facing one count each of second-degree felony criminal mischief and third-degree felony burglary.

2017 file photo for illustrative purposes only of area behind a business on Telegraph Street in Washington City, Utah, Sept. 10, 2017 | Photo by Ron Chaffin, St. George News

The criminal mischief charge was enhanced based upon the damage to the restaurant, which included one large plate glass entrance door that was shattered, in addition to the sheetrock that was heavily damaged. The estimated cost to repair the damage exceeded $5,100.

Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams told St. George News there were two other individuals suspected of being involved in the incident, neither of whom have been identified or apprehended. 

Following the arrest, detectives requested that Price be held without bail, based on his criminal history “documenting an ongoing continual criminal acts,” in addition to the suspect’s lack of ties to Utah, and that Price is a person of interest in a number of other unsolved burglaries recently reported in the area.

The request was approved when a no bail order was signed by District Judge Eric Gentry and the suspect remains in custody in Washington County without bail.

Southern Utah residents who may have information that can help to identify the other individuals involved, or any information that can assist in the investigation, are being asked to call the Washington City Police Department at 435-986-1515. 

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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