SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Remains of a man police believe shot and wounded a state park ranger in 2010 and eluded more than 100 officers in a desert manhunt were found Thursday, authorities said.
Skeletal remains believed to be those of Lance Leeroy Arellano were discovered in a narrow cave near Moab, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
More than 100 officers spent days searching rugged desert canyons and caves for Arellano after identifying him as the suspect in the shooting of Utah park ranger Brody Young.
Young, who was 34 at the time, survived the shooting with injuries to his arm, leg and abdomen. A message seeking comment from Young on Thursday night was not immediately returned.
Gary Lewis, a manager of Young’s motivational speaking business, said police contacted Young seeking help identifying the remains.
Young and his family would not be commenting, Lewis said, citing the holidays. He noted that the Christmas Eve discovery also marked the five-year anniversary of the day Young returned home from the hospital.
Lewis said Young still works for Utah State Parks in the agency’s boating safety program.
“He’s made a complete recovery but he still carries around four bullets,” Lewis said.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office said a college student discovered the remains in the cave. Nearby was a bag containing a handgun and ammunition.
The sheriff’s office said the student was specifically searching the area for any evidence of Arellano’s location. They did not offer further details about why the student, Caleb Shumway, undertook the search.
A message left with a number listed for Shumway was not returned.
The cave could only be accessed by crawling through a gap in boulders that was 6 feet long, 3 feet high and 3 feet wide, the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities said evidence left with the remains led investigators to believe it was Arellano, but they did not offer further details.
The remains will be sent to the state medical examiner to be identified.
Messages seeking further details from Grand County Sheriff Steven White were not immediately returned.
Young was shot when he approached Arrellano in his car at the Poison Spider Mesa Trailhead on Nov. 19, 2010, according to authorities. Young told Arrellano that he was in a no-camping area, and when he attempted to verify the man’s name and birthdate, he was shot several times in the back, authorities said.
Police believed Arrellano may have been injured as Young returned fire.
More than 160 law enforcement officers combed a 15-squre mile area near Dead Horse State Park. They recovered a rifle, backpack and tattered bloody T-shirt.
Prosecutors had filed first-degree felony attempted murder and other charges against Arrellano.
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