TAYLORSVILLE – An early-morning police standoff that left Darren Neil Grueber dead at the wheel of his car was not the suspected white supremacist‘s first attempt to flee police.
In 1999, Grueber refused to comply with orders from Salt Lake County sheriff’s deputies as they tried to arrest him at his home, according to court records. That confrontation ended with Grueber taken into custody.
On Saturday, members of the Salt Lake County Gang Unit serving a search warrant on the apartment where Grueber stayed surrounded Grueber, 48, as he parked at Spring Hill Apartments, near 5601 S. Redwood Road, about 4:30 a.m.
In an attempt to flee, Grueber backed a white Chevrolet Blazer into a tree, rousing neighbors, and slammed into the front of a parked Kia Rio, witnesses said.
The Blazer’s engine raced as Grueber drove on top of the Kia’s hood and then pushed the Kia out of its parking spot, witnesses said. A police car and truck swarmed it to block the Blazer.
An officer yelled, “He’s got a gun, he’s got a gun,” said Katie Jablonski, who watched from her bedroom window.
“That’s when all hell broke loose,” Jablonski said.
Jablonski said she heard two shots – apparently from an officer – and then a flurry of gunfire.
“We were ducking,” Jablonski said. “I was bawling my eyes out, like, ‘I cannot die.’ ”
Grueber was hit several times and later died from injuries at University Hospital, police said. Two officers – one from West Jordan and one from South Jordan attached to the Metro Gang Unit – fired because they feared Grueber would hit them with the Blazer, said Sgt. Rosie Rivera, Taylorsville police spokeswoman. A West Jordan officer received a minor shoulder injury in the melee, Rivera said.
“To me, [officers] were in danger,” said one witness who asked that her name not be used because of safety concerns. “The guy was going crazy. He wouldn’t stop.”
A female passenger in the car during the shooting was not harmed, police said.
A group of 10 gang officers, along with a Taylorsville and a West Jordan cop, arrived to serve the search warrant.
David Enns, 27, arrived first, and was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and on an outstanding felony arrest warrants for drug possession and distribution, police said.
Dean Sessions awoke to officers telling Enns to put his “[expletive] hands on the head liner” of his car about 3:30 a.m., he said. About 20 minutes later, Sessions said he heard two loud bangs as police entered the apartment where Grueber was staying.
All was quiet for another 30 minutes or so until Sessions again heard officers yelling commands in the parking lot, this time at Grueber.
Later that morning, Trevor Lewis went to his car to find a bullet hole an inch in diameter in his front-left headlight. His car was parked nearly 200 feet from where the shooting occurred.
Lewis said police told him he would be responsible for paying for any repairs, Lewis said.
“It’s all on me, which I think is weird,” Lewis said. “You think the state would cover that – they’ve got plenty of money.”
Police said Grueber was a member of the white-supremacist gang Silent Aryan Warriors.
Grueber was released from federal prison in May, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which did not give specifics on his convictions. In 2002, He pleaded guilty to failing to stop at the command of police in the 1999 case and was sentenced to up to five years in prison to run concurrent with federal charges. An aggravated assault charge was dismissed in the case.
Grueber also pleaded guilty in 1994 to misdemeanor attempted possession of a controlled substance.
His son, Darren Grueber Jr., is serving up to a life sentence for his part in the 2001 beating death of 36-year-old Don Dorton. The younger Grueber, also a suspected member of Silent Aryan Warriors, dropped an 83-pound rock onto Dorton’s head. Grueber, who was 19 at the time, and five other men with ties to the white-supremacist gang were convicted in the case.
Detectives from Taylorsville, West Jordan, South Jordan and the District Attorney’s Office are investigating Saturday’s shooting.