Utah man accused of threatening to kill police, arrested with weapons on way to protest
FBI and local police said two men made threats against law enforcement on social media and brought several weapons, including an AK-47, to a protest
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — While Monday night’s protests in downtown Salt Lake City ended much more peacefully than Saturday night, the situation may have been drastically different if not for the investigative efforts of West Valley police and the FBI.
“They probably saved a lot of lives,” said West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku.
Two men with numerous weapons who were allegedly on their way to the protests in Salt Lake City were arrested Monday. Four weapons — including an AK-47 and an Uzi with a silencer attached — were recovered from a vehicle, Vainuku said.
In the home of Yuri Neves Silva, 27, of West Valley City, more weapons were found and seized.
Information about a potential motive was not immediately available, but police believe the two were headed to the protests to cause trouble.
“We had every reason to believe that’s what they intended to do,” Vainuku said.
Silva had posted “multiple threats of violence against police, specifically Salt Lake City police and West Valley City police” over social media and “encouraged others to take up arms against police as well, and had reportedly listed the names and addresses of specific officers to be targeted,” she said.
Silva was arrested for investigation of making a terroristic threat. Police say Silva was making multiple posts about harming police officers and was seen in one picture holding a gun, according to a police affidavit.
“In one video posted on (Sunday), the suspect made a video showing himself mocking the Salt Lake City curfew, stating, ‘Hands up don’t shoot,’” while also threatening to kill police officers, the affidavit states.
“The suspect also made comments knowing officers were trying to follow his Facebook page and he directed officers to stay at home to protect their families, otherwise ‘we will have no choice but to affiliate you with your ... colleagues and their actions.’
“The suspect also mentions a police officer who resides in his neighborhood and comments, ‘You put that cop car in the garage real quick play boi,’” according to the affidavit.
Four additional firearms were found in Silva’s home, police said.
“The suspect denied wanting to shoot police officers but admitted his Facebook posts were intended to incite people,” the affidavit states.
Christian Hernandez, 27, of Magna, was also in the car with Silva at the time of his arrest.
“The suspect admitted he was headed to the current protests in Salt Lake City,” police wrote in an affidavit.
Marijuana and “four firearms, including three long rifles and one handgun,” were found in the vehicle, the affidavit states.
Hernandez was arrested for investigation of possession of a firearm by a restricted person and drug possession.