LA VERKIN, Utah (ABC4 News) – A 39-year-old man is behind bars after police said he threatened employees and officers who work for the city of La Verkin, forcing a lockdown at city hall.
Police said an employee of the La Verkin City Public Works department saw Justin McNeel on Wednesday around 9:00 a.m. by La Verkin City Park located at 300 N Main St. walking two dogs.
The employee recognized McNeel as a man who had confronted a public works employee last week and had made threatening statements towards the City of La Verkin, and the La Verkin Police Department.
After confronting the employee, McNeel got in his car and drove away, across the grass, causing the back end of the vehicle to spin out and causing damage to the grass in the park.
On Wednesday, a different employee approached McNeel regarding the damage to the grass. While holding a firearm in his hand with the hammer cocked, McNeel admitted he had driven on the grass and began making threats towards the City of La Verkin, and the La Verkin Police Department, documents state.
The employee stated that McNeel was “speaking very emphatically, and was waving the gun around in his hand.” As McNeel left the park, he continued to make threatening statements towards La Verkin Police Department officers which could be heard from two blocks away.
On Friday, around 9:45 a.m., La Verkin City Hall received a telephone call from McNeel who stated that he had grievances against the city and the police department and named specific officers. McNeel said he was coming to the city hall around 1 p.m. to “take care of business.”
It was believed McNeel was intending to come to city hall and commit an act of violence and those employees felt afraid for their lives so the building was placed on lockdown, employees were sent home and all city operations were stopped.
Police made contact with McNeel at a relative’s home, where an active protective order from 2018 was still in place. McNeel was seated in his vehicle, with the engine running and officers said McNeel was verbally hostile, cursing, yelling loudly, and attempting to antagonize them.
McNeel would not place the car in park and turn it off as he had been instructed to do. He told the officers they could not tell him what to do and he attempted to drive away. The officer again ordered McNeel to turn off the vehicle when he began yelling and refused.
Multiple orders were given, to which he refused.
Police were able to get McNeel into custody who admitted to confronting the employee while holding a weapon and he was intending to go to La Verkin City Hall that day.
McNeel had a replica firearm in the vehicle, which was determined to be a CO2 powered BB gun, but was styled to be functionally indistinguishable from a semi-automatic firearm.
During his interactions with officers, McNeel made threatening statements and that he couldn’t wait until he had people behind him to “take you guys down” and he wanted physical harm to be inflicted upon several specific named police officers.
McNeel faces charges of felony making a false alarm and misdemeanor charges of violation of a protective order, possession of a deadly weapon with intent to assault, interfering with an arresting officer and electronic communications harrassment.