CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Police: Suspect in Sgt. Bill Hooser killing held a woman against her will when pulled over

May 13, 2024, 3:09 PM | Updated: May 14, 2024, 10:53 am

Michael Aaron Jayne, the Indiana man accused of intentionally running down and killing a Santaquin ...

Michael Aaron Jayne, the Indiana man accused of intentionally running down and killing a Santaquin police officer, was holding a woman against her will when officers pulled him over, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office. (Utah Department of Public Safety)

(Utah Department of Public Safety)

SANTAQUIN, Utah — The Utah County Sheriff’s Office said the man they suspect of hitting and killing Santaquin Police Sgt. Bill Hooser in a semi-truck was holding a woman against her will when officers pulled him over. The woman may have saved another officer’s life.

A police booking document said the woman was hidden in the “sleeping compartment of the cab” until Sgt. Hooser pulled over the suspect on May 5. While Sgt. Hooser and Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Dustin Griffiths asked the driver, Michael Aaron Jayne, questions through the driver’s window, the woman escaped through the passenger’s door.

Related:  Santaquin residents honor fallen officer

The document said the suspect allegedly killed Hooser by pinning him against a patrol vehicle. Griffiths’ back was reportedly to the truck as it approached. The woman warned Trooper Griffiths and both “jumped/ran from the path of the oncoming semi-truck” and barely avoided getting hit.

Police have not revealed the name of the woman.

Utah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Spencer Cannon told KSL NewsRadio Monday that this woman and the suspect in the death of Sgt. Hooser, Michael Aaron Jayne, know each other.

“[She] was with him [in the truck] willingly up to a certain point,” said Cannon. “There was an argument or altercation in southern Utah at a stop that they made. And it was there that under threat of bear spray and knife that she got back in the truck with him.

Related: Family of fallen Santaquin officer: ‘He died doing a job he loved’

“But it wasn’t until the incident in Santaquin that she felt safe in trying to get away from him,” Cannon said.

What led up to Sgt. Hooser’s death?

According to the booking document, police got a call at about 5:57 p.m. about a white semitruck that was allegedly being targeted by the “Hell’s Angels.” The caller also allegedly said a person was on the back of the trailer.

Sgt. Hooser was stationed at an I-15 median in Santaquin when he saw a truck matching the description. He followed it off the freeway. Hooser pulled the truck over as the driver ran a stop sign and attempted to reenter northbound I-15. Trooper Dustin Griffiths of the Utah Highway Patrol assisted.

Cannon could not confirm or deny the Hell’s Angels were actually targeting Jayne or that there was a person on the back of the trailer.

Officers told Jayne they were trying to help

The report said Jayne initially would not answer the officers’ questions. Hooser and Griffiths allegedly told Jayne he was not in trouble and “they were there trying to help.” The driver eventually handed over his truck’s digital log to Griffiths.

“Near this point,” said the document, “a female had emerged from the sleeper section of the cab and jumped out of the passenger side door. The female ran to the back of the trailer and around to the other side with her hands up. Sgt. Hooser made a gesture to Trooper Griffiths while walking back to the semi-truck, indicating they needed to remove the driver and detain him.”

That’s when Jayne allegedly pulled away in his truck. The officers began to run back to their cars. They did not see the semi make a “sharp” U-turn and begin coming at them. Hooser saw the truck and attempted to move away from his car’s doorjamb, but the report said Jayne changed directions, accelerated, and hit him.

“The semi-truck’s grill and bumper pushed Sgt. Hooser forward and smashed his body into the front of Trooper Griffiths patrol car, killing Sgt. Hooser,” according to the document.

Griffith and the woman avoided the truck after Jayne drove it toward them.

The arrest

The report said Jayne fled the scene in his truck before pulling over and running off the freeway. He reportedly stole multiple vehicles before police officers caught up to him near Vernal.

“Highway Patrol located the vehicle after the owners reported it stolen,” according to the report. “Troopers attempted to stop the vehicle and Jayne accelerated to high speeds documented over 100 mph [miles per hour]. While fleeing from Troopers, Jayne turned the stolen vehicle he was driving towards other vehicles traveling the opposite direction. Highway Patrol Troopers caught up to the vehicle and performed a successful Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) maneuver. Jayne was unable to maintain control of the vehicle, went off the road, and crashed.”

Cannon said Jayne was severely injured. He added the officers were justified in using a PIT maneuver on the stolen Ford F-150 while moving over 100 miles per hour. They believed the suspect posed a threat of “death or injury to an officer if they do escape.”

The status of the suspect

Cannon said Jayne remained in the hospital through Saturday, when officers transferred him to the Utah County jail.

“He was under guard the entire team he was in the hospital,” said Cannon.

Police arrested Jayne on suspicion of nine felony charges. These include counts of murder, aggravated murder targeting a law enforcement officer, aggravated kidnapping, and vehicle theft. The Utah County Sheriff’s Office urged the judge not to allow Jayne to leave police custody on bail. They believe “there is a reasonable likelihood he will flee if released.”

Jayne could face the death penalty if found guilty of the charge of aggravated murder targeting a law officer.

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Police: Suspect in Sgt. Bill Hooser killing held a woman against her will when pulled over