Police apprehend suspect in Utah highway killing

Posted at 6:06 AM, May 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-25 17:37:06-04

CASSIA COUNTY, Idaho — Idaho State Police have apprehended a Los Angeles man after a two day search in Southern Idaho.

Details of the arrest are not available at this time, but police say he was taken into custody within the initial search area, in the vicinity of the intersection of I-86 and Raft River/Yale road.

There were no injuries to law enforcement or civilians.

Police in Idaho were searching Thursday and Friday near a small town for the man. He is suspected of shooting and killing a motorist along a desolate stretch of interstate highway in Utah.

Jonathan Llana, 45, of Los Angeles was being sought near Burley after crashing his car during a chase by authorities, Idaho State Police said, describing him as armed and dangerous.

Officials said they didn't know a motive for the shooting Wednesday night on a stretch of Interstate 84 called Rattlesnake Pass in northern Utah.
Llana was charged Thursday afternoon with one count of aggravated murder and one count of attempted aggravated murder, according to online Utah court records. The charging documents don't reveal much about the incident other than that Llana is accused at firing multiple rounds at the vehicle driven by the victim, Dennis Gwyther of Salt Lake City.

Llana owns a silver Volkswagen Jetta that Idaho troopers pursued until it crashed into a canal along Interstate 86, Van Fleet said.

The driver ran, and authorities were searching for him all day Thursday, with the assistance of a helicopter.

"We think he's still out there ... running through the fields," Van Fleet said during a news conference in Salt Lake City Thursday. "We really think we're getting close on this."

In Idaho, Cassia County Sheriff Jay Heward warned residents near the search area to be wary of strangers and asked them to report any missing vehicles.

"People should keep their doors locked and not let strangers inside their homes," Heward told The Times-News newspaper in Twin Falls, Idaho on Thursday. "Don't pick up anyone when you are driving or befriend anyone."

Llana was described as 5 feet 10 inches (1.8 meters) tall, weighing about 150 pounds (68 kilograms), with black hair and brown eyes. He is described as armed and dangerous, but Heward said it's unknown whether he has a weapon in his possession. Utah law enforcement officials said a weapon was found inside the wrecked Jetta.

Van Fleet said there was no indication the two drivers had interacted before the Wednesday shooting.

The attack occurred after the Jetta and Range Rover cleared a traffic slowdown that resulted when two big rigs were side by side as one passed the other, Van Fleet said.

The passenger in the Range Rover called 911 to report the shooting and provided a description of the Jetta, which had a unique antennae, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Another motorist — an emergency medical technician — stopped to help and confirmed the driver had died. The injured passenger was taken to a hospital.

The victim and a passenger were traveling in a Range Rover from Salt Lake City to Boise, Idaho, for work, Utah State Bureau of Investigation Lt. Ryan Van Fleet said.

The victim’s husband is now calling for swift justice and remembering his partner as a man who loved to have fun and laugh.

Matt Gwyther said in a Facebook post that he and Dennis Gwyther married on Dec. 10, 2013, the day gay marriage was legalized in Utah. He said Dennis Gwyther was the “love of his life” who enjoyed being the “bonus dad” to his two teenage children.

He said Dennis Gwyther loved kidding around and playing jokes and was like a “kid inside an adult body.” He said he loved gadgets and was a genius with technology, loved writing and did sound and lighting for clubs in Salt Lake City.

Dennis Gwyther was also a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights, his husband said.

He said the family is still in shock at his death and wants the suspect caught and for “swift justice.”

Utah officials said the two victims were heading toward Idaho on Interstate 84 in northern Utah when the suspect fired multiple rounds at their vehicle. Idaho troopers chased Llana’s vehicle until it crashed into a canal in southern Idaho. Llana then fled on foot, police said.

The motive of the shooting is still unknown, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said.

Original Story:

Idaho State Police and the Cassia County Sheriff's Office are looking for an armed and dangerous homicide suspect.

On May 22, Jonathan Llana allegedly shot and killed a person in Utah on I-84 near Rattlesnake Pass. Llana fled to Idaho and was stopped by Cassia County Deputies and the Idaho State Police. Llana then ran from law enforcement in his vehicle and crashed into a field near I-84 in Cassia County.

Llana ran from the area of Raft River and Yale Road intersection with I-86 and is still at large. He is considered armed and dangerous.

Llana is described as 45-years-old and is 5'10", 150 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.

If you see a person matching this description, contact 911 or Idaho State Police immediately at 208-846-7550 or *477.