SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A Utah man has pleaded guilty to assaulting and discharging a firearm at a federal officer on Friday.
The U.S. Department of Justice says Epifanio Welch, 46 has plead guilty to two felony counts, including assaulting a federal officer and shooting a firearm during a crime of violence.
Authorities say the incident happened in May 2021 while U.S. Marshals were trying to apprehend Welch and another suspect, Valerie Jeanne Humphrey, on multiple arrest warrants.
Officials say they had information that both Welch and Humphrey would engage in “suicide by cop rather than surrendering peacefully.”
While attempting to execute the arrest warrants, and before entering the home, officers “took a barrage of gunfire,” according to officials. When ordering all occupants to exit the home, officials say five people exited, but the two remaining suspects remained inside, barricaded in the basement.
After receiving no response from the two suspects, beanbags were used to try and breach the window. Instead of exiting the home, gunshots were fired at officers from the home. Authorities retreated behind a police vehicle for safety as the multiple rounds kept firing.
Eventually, the two suspects were apprehended by officers. During a house search, police found four firearms in the basement where they barricaded inside.
Authorities say Welch later admitted that he “fired multiple shots from a firearm at officers, attempting to harm them as well as to impede them from arresting [his] companion and [him] on those warrants.’”
No officers were struck or injured by the rounds, authorities say.
Authorities say Welch has been previously convicted of five felony offenses and was prohibited from possessing a firearm at the time of the shooting.
Officers assigned to the U.S. Marshal’s Violent Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team (“VFAST”) were involved in the incident.
“Defense attorneys and federal prosecutors have agreed to recommend a 14-year prison sentence for Welch and to the forfeiture of four firearms found at the scene of the crime at sentencing, currently scheduled for June 27, 2022,” authorities say.