Witnesses tell of escalating violence during day of shooting
A Price man accused of shooting at and wounding one sheriff deputy and severely beating his ex-wife heard the charges and the evidence against him at an appearance in court on Friday.
Gary Hinkins Jr., 40, was in Seventh District Court for a preliminary hearing. Hinkins is facing multiple charges including five counts of attempted murder, one count of use of a firearm by a restricted person and a reckless charge for possession of incendiary devices.
During the hearing, multiple witnesses were called to the stand by District Attorney Gene Strate to relate their accounts of the incident. Also taking the stand was Mechelle Hinkins, the former wife of Gary Hinkins.
Mechelle Hinkins told Strate during questioning that the couple got into a few arguments on Feb. 26, the day of the shootout. She stated that at some point that afternoon, things became violent as Hinkins began hitting her repeatedly with a crowbar. She also said that Hinkins wrapped duct tape around her head and face but she managed to pull it off. Detectives located the blood-stained crowbar and also found duct tape on the floor at the home that contained strands of hair from Michelle.
"The more I struggled [with Hinkins] the worse it got," Mechelle said.
Hinkins was taken to Castleview Hospital and police were called out to talk with her. Price Police Officer Kevin Mele said when he visited Mechelle at Castleview he observed that she had a large laceration on her head, wounds on her arm and one of her fingers was hanging off.
After Mechelle met with police at the hospital, Utah Adult Probation and Parole Agents Jeff Wood and Cletis Steele and Carbon County Sheriff Deputies Tory Christiansen and Michael Hreinson went to Hinkins' home at 211 South 400 West, to interview him.
Wood said when they arrived to the home they noticed footprints in the snow leading to a motor home behind the house. After checking the area they noticed Hinkins was lying on the floor inside of the motor home and made contact with him telling him to come outside. Hinkins responded by saying "No" and shortly after he began firing slugs from a shotgun through the windshield and the wall of the motor home. Wood said that the second shot fired by Hinkins was the one that wounded deputy Hreinson.
Price Police Sgt. Tracy Allred testified that the slug that wounded Hreinson disintegrated his holster and shattered a key chain on his service belt. Pieces of the holster and key fragments were later found near the fence at the scene, he said.
With the shots being fired towards them, all four men decided to pull back to a more secure position as Christiansen provided cover fire with his service weapon.
Hreinson took the stand and said during questioning that he was standing near a fence about 20 feet from the motor home when he was wounded by a shotgun blast. He said that the shot which wounded him hit him on his hip holster and fragments from the holster and keys also hit his arm. He was later treated and released from Castleview Hospital.
When searching for Hinkins, Allred said they suspected he was on the roof of the motor home when officers began calling out over the radio asking if anyone was on the roof. Hinkins began running from the scene but was taken into custody by the Sheriff's SWAT Team and Price Police officers after a brief chase in a nearby yard at shortly after 7:30 p.m.
Allred said Hinkins was wearing a white bullet proof vest, had 37 matches on him and had about $1,300 in his wallet. A search of the motor home found four homemade Molotov cocktails, which Allred thought Hinkins was intending to use during the standoff.
All of the fired shots from the motor home were all slugs, Allred said. Buck shots were also found on the floor of the motor home, he said.
The nearby area was cordoned off as a bomb squad from Utah County was called in to assess the scene and properly dispose of any incendiary devices.
In addition to Price police, Sheriff's deputies and the Utah County Sheriff's Bomb Squad, responders also included Helper Police, Wellington Police, Emery County Sheriff, East Carbon Police, Utah Highway Patrol, Federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents, Price City Fire Department, Carbon County Hazmat and Carbon County Ambulance.
Hinkins will make his next appearance in Seventh District Court for his arraignment on April 28 at 12:15 p.m.