JUAB COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — A Minnesota man has been sentenced to 300 months in prison for carjacking a deputy’s vehicle in 2021 and firing multiple rounds at Utah Highway Patrol troopers, injuring a bystander in the process.
According to the U.S. District Court of Utah, James Howard Klein, 35, of Chaska, Minnesota, admitted in federal court that he shot at UHP troopers after Juab Co. deputies found nine pounds of meth in his vehicle. He proceeded to carjack a deputy’s vehicle to escape detainment.
“[Klein] engaged in some of the most egregious offenses I have ever seen during my time on the bench,” said United States District Court Judge Jill N. Parrish.
On May 19, 2021, a deputy reportedly stopped Klein’s vehicle off Interstate 15 in Juab County for a traffic violation. Deputies found nine pounds of meth and a loaded Hi-Point C9 9mm handgun. Klein was placed in the front passenger side of a Juab County Sheriff’s Office vehicle while the search continued.
Klein then slid to the driver’s side of the deputy’s vehicle and took off at a high rate of speed down I-15. He reportedly failed to make the turn to exit the freeway at milepost 202 and disabled the vehicle.
UHP troopers who were following Klein arrived behind the deputy’s stolen vehicle, and that’s when Klein pulled out a Colt Defense 5.56 rifle and began shooting at law enforcement.
Klein then attempted to carjack a Ford near the scene and fired the gun into the console of the bystanders’ vehicle, causing the airbags to deploy. As the Ford drove away, Klein shot and hit the passenger in the leg, according to court documents.
After that, Klein continued to fire at troopers before he was struck by a bullet in his leg. He attempted to escape on foot and hid by a nearby river. Authorities eventually took Klein into custody.
In addition to his 300-month prison sentence, Klein is subjected to five years of supervised release following his time in prison.
“Mr. Klein’s brazen actions demonstrate how desperate he was to evade arrest at the expense of law enforcement and public safety,” said Cheyvoryea Gibson of the Salt Lake City FBI. “This sentencing is an example of how the FBI and our partners work together to ensure violent offenders like Mr. Klein are not free to roam our streets for a long time.”
The case was investigated by the FBI, Utah Highway Patrol, Juab County Sheriff’s Office, and the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.