MILLCREEK, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Natalie Nesbitt went outside to smoke a cigarette. As she approached her pickup truck she saw Lonnie Bowen.
She claimed he seemed agitated and edgy.
“He had made me get into my vehicle and he held me at knife point,” Nesbitt said. “He was paranoid.”
That was the beginning of a seven-hour ordeal between Bowen, Nesbitt and police. It ended with police shooting Bowen in Magna. Nesbitt who was held hostage was on his lap when he was shot.
But before the shooting, Nesbitt was trying to calm her boyfriend down. She said he was paranoid and even thought she was hiding someone in her pickup truck. Finally at 3 in the morning he made a call.
“He called 911 and asked for a hostage negotiator,” she said. “He was thinking we were already surrounded at the time.”
But she said there was no one around at that hour. Nesbitt said Bowen insisted on negotiating with police.
“He then thought I was working with them or trying to set him up because I was trying to convince him that nobody was there,” Nesbitt said.
Since going to prison in the late 1990s, Bowen’s bout with mental illness was well documented.
That night last week, Nesbitt was seeing it take over Bowen.
“He instructed me to drive and he was scared and I didn’t want to say no with a knife to my throat,” she said.
Before ending in Magna, Nesbitt said they stopped in West Valley and tried to regroup. She said they were in an isolated location and had called 911 as they drove. Nesbitt said as they parked Bowen spotted police trying to sneak up on them and he ordered her to start driving. She did.
“I drove and did exactly as he said,” Nesbitt said.
As they sped off Nesbitt said Bowen again called 911 demanding a hostage negotiator. He then handed her the phone.
“I kept it on so that 911 could listen in and help find us,” she said.
That’s when they approached 8400 West and 2700 South in Magna. They ran over tire spikes laid out by police and the pickup truck came to a stop.
“There was a (police) car ramming the front end of the pickup and it kept pushing us,” she said. “Police were surrounding us from all sides.”
Nesbitt said she had been driving and Bowen ordered her to sit on his lap. She complied.
“He opened the passenger side door and he yelled out ‘back away, back off or I’ll cut her,'” recalled Nesbitt. “And then the shot came through the driver side window and I remember having the glass all over my face.”
She started screaming and was pulled out of the vehicle. Nesbitt had no idea if Bowen was alive or dead. Later at the hospital she was told he had died.
“I didn’t want it to end this way,” she said. “I wanted to try and get a resolution, get some help.”
Despite the violence she endured, Nesbitt was hoping for a different outcome. She said he was a different person when he was on his medication.
“I tried to help him stay on meds and it was hard to keep him continuously on meds,” said Nesbitt. “When he did take them, he was completely different when he didn’t take them.”
Nesbitt said Bowen didn’t have any insurance and it was difficult to get him treatment because she was not a family member. They did try to get help at the 4th Street Clinic but Nesbitt said the wait was extremely long.”
“For someone who is paranoid that is not the right environment,” Nesbitt said.
She said she also has a disability and is bipolar. The struggles she witnessed is one reason she wants to champion mental health issues.
“I want to have my voice heard to see if we can make some changes,” Nesbitt said. “There definitely has to be some changes to our system in the way things are handled. Maybe somebody’s life in the future can be saved.”
Families and individuals need to know how to get help during a mental health crisis. Below is a list of Utah Behavioral Health Crisis Lines. Additionally, those in crisis may make use of emergency departments or call 911 to receive help.
Utah Behavioral Health Crisis Lines
Statewide Crisis Line 801-587-3000
Wasatch Front Crisis Lines
- Davis County 801-773-7060
- Salt Lake County 801-261-1442
- Utah County 801-373-7393
- Heber County 801-318-4016
- Weber County 801-625-3700
Other Utah Crisis Lines
Utah County Crisis Line 801-691-LIFE http://www.unitedwayuc.org/crisisline/
Central Utah 877-386-0194
- Four Corners call 911; page on-call worker
- Northeastern Utah 435-828-8241
- Northwestern Utah
- Cache County 435-752-0750
- Box Elder County 435-452-8612
- Southeastern Utah 800-502-3999
- Southwestern Utah 435-634-5600