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Preston man jailed for allegedly shooting trespasser in the head

Crime Watch

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PRESTON — A man accused of shooting a woman and her vehicle for trespassing on his property is facing charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and malicious injury to property.

Jeffrey S. Elgan, 62, was arrested by Franklin County Sheriff’s deputies on May 31 after he allegedly fired a shotgun pistol at a woman he accused of driving on his property, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Deputies responded to a 911 call around noon and met the woman on State Highway 36. The woman told dispatchers that she had been shot in the back of the head.

Upon arrival, deputies noted visible blood on the woman’s head and in her hair on the left side. She told deputies that she and a friend were out driving on Highway 36 when they saw a road that appeared to be a fun drive.

Because no visible sign was posted marking the road private property, she took the turn and headed up the hill.

A short time later, she said that a four-wheeler “came flying up behind (them),” a police report says. The driver of the four-wheeler, identified as Elgan, yelled at them, both the woman and her passenger said. After telling both that they were going to be arrested, Elgan grabbed the steering wheel of the woman’s Jeep Wrangler and demanded the keys, police reports show.

The passenger later told police that when Elgan grabbed the Jeep’s steering wheel and demanded the keys, the woman hit the gas to get away with the intention of turning around and heading down the hill. That was when the witness heard a pop and saw the driver slump over onto the steering wheel.

“You shot her,” the witness said to Elgan, who allegedly responded, “Yeah, I shot her.”

The passenger and driver switched seats, and the passenger drive down the hill. The victim called 911.

The deputies were waiting at the bottom of the hill. They asked Elgan, who had followed the Jeep down to Highway 36, if he was still in possession of the weapon used, and he told them that he had dropped it off with his son.

Asked what he saw, Elgan’s son told deputies that he witnessed the victim’s Jeep head up the family’s road. He saw his father “fly up the road” behind the Jeep in his four-wheeler. He “gets pretty upset and angry with people who trespass up the road,” he said of Elgan.

A short time later, the Jeep came back down the hill. His father, behind the Jeep, stopped at the home and handed his holstered Taurus Judge shotgun pistol to his son, who removed the ammo and placed the gun in the bed of a truck.

Deputies inspected the weapon and the ammunition, noting that one of the four rounds had been fired.

The victim was transported to Franklin County Medical Center. In addition to the physical injuries to the woman, officers noted damage to the mirror, front window and tailgate of the Jeep.

Two pellets were removed from the woman’s head.

Deputies spoke with the woman’s passenger at the hospital, whose story was similar to the one offered by the victim, the affidavit says.

Elgan told deputies that he recalled becoming upset about people driving on his private road. He allegedly said he did grab the steering wheel and demand the keys.

Asked if he would give his keys to someone in that situation, Elgan told deputies he would not. He allegedly told deputies that he understood how bad what he had done was.

Deputies noted in reports overhearing a phone call between Elgan and his wife in which he said he lost his temper and fired his gun.

Elgan was arrested and booked at Cache County Jail in Logan, Utah. He posted bail the following day, after a request for release on own recognizance was denied by Franklin County Magistrate Judge Todd Garbett. A no-contact order was issued.

Because the damage to the Jeep is estimated to have been more than $1,000, the injury to property is a felony, as is the aggravated battery charge.

If he is found guilty of both, Elgan would face up to 20 years in prison and $51,000 in fines as well as restitution.

He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on June 11.