Salt Lake City Man Indicted for Carjacking After Allegedly Attacking a Woman with a Child in the Vehicle
Salt Lake City, Utah – A Minnesota man was sentenced today to 25 years’ imprisonment following a 2021 shooting incident with Utah Highway Patrol troopers. The defendant admitted that he discharged a firearm during and in relation to carjacking and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute offenses.
According to court documents, on May 19, 2021, James Howard Klein, 35, of Chaska, Minnesota, was stopped by deputies in Juab County off Interstate-15 for a traffic violation. During a search of the Klein’s vehicle, deputies found nine pounds of methamphetamine and a loaded Hi-Point C9 9mm handgun. As deputies continued their search, Klein was placed in the front passenger side of a Juab County Sheriff deputy’s vehicle. Unhandcuffed, Klein slid to the driver’s side of the deputy’s vehicle and took off at a high rate of speed until losing control and disabling the vehicle at the next exit. UHP troopers, who were following Klein and signaling him to stop the vehicle, arrived behind the deputy’s stolen vehicle. Klein exited the vehicle and pulled out a secured Colt Defense 5.56 rifle and started shooting at UHP troopers who returned fire. Klein flagged down two bystanders in a white Ford Escape while holding the rifle. Threatening the bystanders with the gun, he attempted to take their vehicle and shoot them. As the bystanders escaped, Klein fired shots at their vehicle several times, eventually striking the passenger in the leg. Klein continued to shoot at troopers before he was struck by a bullet in the leg. Attempting to escape on foot, Klein hid by a nearby river. Additional law enforcement units arrived, located Klein and took him into custody. In addition to his 300 month’s imprisonment, Klein was ordered to serve five years of supervised release after his prison sentence.
“You engaged in some of the most egregious offenses I have ever seen during my time on the bench,” said United States District Court Judge Jill N. Parrish.
“The valiant UHP troopers engaged in a harrowing firefight with Mr. Klein that could have turned deadly at any point. Mr. Klein’s carjacking activities could have resulted in deadly consequences for the victims in this case as well,” said Assistant United States Attorney, Stewart M. Young, during sentencing. “We are grateful that no one perished because of Mr. Klein’s actions.”
“Mr. Klein’s brazen actions demonstrate how desperate he was to evade arrest at the expense of law enforcement and public safety,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Cheyvoryea Gibson of the Salt Lake City FBI. “This sentencing is an example of how the FBI and our partners work together to ensure violent offenders like Mr. Klein are not free to roam our streets for a long time.”
U.S. Attorney, Trina A. Higgins, of the District of Utah made the announcement.
The case was investigated jointly by The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Utah Highway Patrol, Juab County Sheriff’s Office, and the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Stephen L. Nelson and Stewart M. Young of the District of Utah prosecuted the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.