MURRAY — A man with an ax terrorized a Murray neighborhood Tuesday in a wild and bizarre scene.
"I am traumatized. I am shaking still," said a woman whose roof became the scene of a one-hour standoff between the ax-wielding man and police.
Police say Ammon Jacob Woodhead, while carrying a hatchet, first broke into a home on Vinecrest Circle and attacked two of the residents inside, then tried to break into three other homes on Vinecrest Drive before ending up on the roof of a house where he was eventually arrested.
The terrifying incident began when Woodhead, 27, stole a vehicle out of Salt Lake City, said Murray police detective Kenny Bass. The man ended up in the neighborhood near 6500 South and 1200 East.
Woodhead broke into a home, apparently at random, about 4:30 a.m. by kicking in the front door, Bass said. He then went into a bedroom where he allegedly attempted to use the blunt end of his hatchet to hit the ankles of a person sleeping in bed.
The person in the bedroom was not injured. As the intruder was trying to leave the house, he was confronted by an adult male. Woodhead also attempted to attack that man, Bass said.
Eventually, that man chased after Woodhead with a flashlight and a golf club, scaring him off.
"The first house he broke into, the neighbor got a golf club and chased him away with it. He took off and he started running, and he tried to break in here, trying to escape," said neighbor Nina Alisa, referring to her home. He tried to break into her house by hacking the front door with the hatchet and also tried to chop the lock off.
Minya Alisa said her family awoke to the terrifying noise.
"You couldn't even make that noise with a fist. It sounded like someone had a big sledgehammer and was trying to bang through the door," she said. "We were so scared, we were freaking out."
Just 20 minutes earlier, Minya Alisa said, her front door would have been unlocked. She had forgotten to lock it the night before but remembered to do so when she got out of bed to get a glass of water.
After failing to get inside the second house, Woodhead ran to a third home and this time tried to get in by just knocking, according to police. The residents did not answer the door.
He then went to a fourth house and at first rang the doorbell.
"The next thing I knew I heard somebody on my roof, and I thought, 'Well, I'm not going to answer the door.' And then I came down and looked out the blinds and there was a whole bunch of cops and people with flashlights up and down the street," said the woman who asked not to be identified. "And I can hear the guy on my roof trying to chop the air conditioner off to get into my home."
Woodhead had first gone into a workshop adjacent to the carport, left his energy drink sitting on a work bench, and smashed out the windows, said homeowner Bill Land.
The man then climbed onto the carport, smashed a couple of holes in the carport with his feet and climbed onto the roof where he apparently tried to enter the house by hacking off the swamp cooler.
About 15 minutes later, Land and his wife were evacuated from the house as police tried to get the man off the roof.
"From our backyard we saw his shadow on the roof. Police were just yelling, 'Put the ax down, put the ax down!' … And it was so scary to see his shadow and swinging the ax on the roof," Minya Alisa said as she watched from next door.
"He's hacking away at my air conditioner trying to get into my home. He's screaming a lot of things at police. … He says, 'I'm not going back to jail, Shoot me.' He wanted them to shoot him," Land's wife said.
After awhile, Woodhead threw the hatchet to the ground, but then held a knife to his throat, Land said. Police tried several ways to end the standoff — including spraying him with a garden hose, shooting him with a bean bag gun and using a Taser — but all methods were ineffective. Police even carried a K-9 onto the roof.
After about an hour, Woodhead, who was now soaking wet, got cold and officers were able to talk him into surrendering without further incident, Bass said. He was taken to a local hospital to be treated for unspecified injuries and then booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, criminal mischief and other charges.
Bass said investigators believe the man was "under the influence of something."
Land agreed that the man definitely seemed to be high on something, noting that he acted like Superman on the roof. The bean bag gun and Tasers did not seem to faze him, he said.
Utah state court records show Woodhead has a history of drug- and theft-related charges. In August, he was found guilty of misdemeanor unlawful detention and assault. In 2011, he was convicted of a couple of drug-related charges that were amended to misdemeanors. Also in 2011, a protective order was filed against him by his roommate claiming cohabitant abuse. In 2010, he was convicted of misdemeanor theft.
Surveying his roof after the incident was over, Land looked over his damaged swamp cooler, which was pushed to one side. He tried gluing the top part of his chimney back together, which had broken by the stranger. He spotted the remains of the Taser wires and prongs left on his roof, which he picked up and planned to keep as a souvenir of the unusual ordeal.
Land said he originally took the day off of work to host his granddaughter's birthday party. Now, he said, he had a little cleanup to do before the party.