:( Texting leads to arrests

Dec 28 2011 - 7:24am



ROY -- Two men were arrested and more charges may be coming after a Monday night text-message fight turned physical and a homeowner fired shots to defend himself and his family.

Police are investigating whether the homeowner's actions were justified under Utah's deadly force law or if he committed a crime.

Police Chief Greg Whinham said the incident began earlier Monday when Paris Thornton, 31, and Robert Crozier, 32, were exchanging text messages through the early evening with the homeowner on the 4500 block of 2675 West. Whinham did not identify the homeowner.

"People who know each other started having a fight by text message. The taunting continued to go back and forth, and the fighting language escalated," Whinham said. "Unfortunately, this is the way society is choosing to communicate."

Thornton and Robert Crozier, 32, then went to the home in Roy to make their point more forcibly.

"Two people came to the home to argue with the residents, but pretty soon the fight turned more violent," he said. "The two threw rocks at the home and at the homeowner's car, one of them peed on the porch and finally the homeowner was hit in the back with a can of beer." He said Thornton was the more aggressive of the two and did the most damage to the house and car.

At that point, Whinham said, the homeowner got out an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle and fired two shots into the air to warn Thornton and Crozier, who ran away.

Police apprehended the two in the neighborhood and arrested them based on the homeowner's report.

"Paris Thornton was identified as the one who threw the beer at the homeowner and was the main individual damaging the house and car," Whinham said. Thornton was booked on suspicion of assault, criminal trespass and felony criminal mischief.

Crozier was booked on an outstanding arrest warrant and for fleeing from police, Whinham said.

"We are still investigating, because obviously there are different opinions on what happened and who did what," he said. "We will refer our findings to the county attorney for possible charges against any and all people involved in this incident.

"Alcohol does appear to be a factor in this fight. People seem to make a lot of bad choices when they've been drinking."

The homeowner is allowed to use deadly force to defend himself, his family and property from people who enter the property to commit a crime, Whinham said, paraphrasing Utah law.

"The county attorney's office will determine whether the shots warrant charges or not based on a person's right to defend his habitation," he said. "That office will determine in this circumstance and under this set of facts, was the shooting justified."

The homeowner could be charged with aggravated assault or reckless endangerment if the county attorney's office doesn't believe the shooting was justified.

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