The SGPD Body Cam Episode: A Reporter’s Perspective
St. George is known as a relatively safe community, but when something big crime-wise does go on here, it’s the St. George Police Department that is in the line of fire.
On Feb. 17, 2022, a harrowing chase across St. George into Arizona had scanner listeners captivated. It was a seemingly normal afternoon when around 2 p.m. things started to go very wrong. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office was following a vehicle containing ex-convict Oscar Alcantara who had a warrant out for his arrest. The plan was to have officers tail him and grab him.
Unfortunately, when Alcantara stopped in a neighborhood over in the Bloomington Hills area, he came back out to his car with a toddler and gun. That child became a human shield.
Officers watched and the chase began. Usual measures couldn't be taken to stop the vehicle since a kidnapped child was in Alcantara's lap. The SGPD was trying to talk to Alcantara at this point.
SGPD Lt. Choli Ence was the one to answer the call and attempted to negotiate with Alcantara who repeatedly said he did not want to hurt the baby. He didn’t stop his car all the way through town while the SGPD was in pursuit.
During Ence's attempted negotiations over the phone, SGPD Officer Eric Trombley was hot on the tail of Alcantara who at this point shot twice at Trombley. Trombley was unharmed but at this point, Ence was losing the negotiations game terribly.
Alcantara continued to drive all the way out to Highway 91 where he reached Arizona and stopped. The SGPD blocked the road heading to Ivins but had zero control over incoming traffic from Littlefield, AZ.
Mojave Police Department intervened at the worst time.
The SGPD had recruited a sniper and Ence was no longer in contact with Alcantara. Negotiations to not pursue if Alcantara left the baby on the road and drove off were attempted. However, a Mojave PD vehicle got too close and Alcantara ran with the child at gunpoint into the brush.
He hid behind some dried weeds making the shot almost impossible plus with the child, it was even more dangerous.
SGPD Officer Anthony Ott was on the scene and though he had no negotiating experience, he gave it a shot and attempted to communicate with Alcantara. It was unsuccessful.
With the help of a police drone and a talented sniper, SGPD Officer Seth Lefevere [ le-fever], Alcantara was eventually shot and died at the scene. The baby was thankfully unharmed.
You can watch the whole video online here but what you don’t know is how CRAZY this was to listen to while it was happening. Just like every other reporter in town at the time, I was on the scanner hoping for just any small update on the child, on the suspect, and on the officers.
If you’ve never listened to a scanner during something like this, it’s...kind of awful. As in the dark as Ence was during moments of the chase, the listeners were even more so (understandably).
I vividly remember the line going dead during shots being fired and the adrenaline coursing through me. Next would be static-layered voices saying, “suspect down, shots fired”, and codes that were too fast for me to look up. As a journalist, we can’t always be on the scene but even listening to the scanner can be frightening.
You know lives are in danger, you know there's a hostage, and for me, my parents’ house was close to the first shots fired out near Santa Clara. It was terrifying.
When working though, those emotions get pushed back and the story is all there is.
So, next time you see a SGPD officer, show them some appreciation for all the crazy ways they have to keep our community safe. Maybe thank a journalist too!
If you want to check out my initial article you can here.