A man who pointed a gun at the head of an Uber driver in Salt Lake City, Utah last week has turned out to be a federal police officer.
According to reports, 44-year-old Byron McDonald, a Lieutenant with the Bureau of Indian Affairs Justice Services, was picked up at a downtown bar by Uber driver James Brothers on October 20 after spending the evening with a group of friends.
“Immediately I kind of felt there was something off with him. Not only was he intoxicated, but there had to have been something else,” Brothers said. “As I’m driving, he’s like really paranoid. I have my hand on my leg. And he grabs my hand and firmly places it on the gear shift, and he says, ‘You need to keep your hand there.’”
After dropping off McDonald’s associates, Brothers says McDonald began issuing threats as they reached his hotel.
“Do you want to live or die?” McDonald reportedly said.
Assuming the remark was in jest due to McDonald’s intoxicated appearance, Brothers says that is when he looked up to see a firearm pointed at his head.
“Initially he brought it up over towards my head and then he lowered it and stuck it under his arm,” Brothers told KUTV.
Fearing for his life, Brothers attempted to flee the vehicle, only to be grabbed by the collar and pulled back inside by McDonald.
“Thoughts are going through my head as to what I need to do, and I just thought, ‘I’m going to bail because I’m not going to sit around and wait for what’s going to happen,’” Brothers said.
Sustaining minor injuries, Brothers was eventually able to escape the scene before calling 911.
The following day, McDonald was taken into custody and charged with felony aggravated assault by Salt Lake City’s District Attorney, who stated that Brothers’ account was corroborated by hotel security cameras.
Despite the violent nature of the offence, McDonald was able to bail himself out of jail several days later.
The Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, released a statement regarding the incident shortly after.
“Mr. McDonald was on official travel at the time of the incident,” spokesperson Nedra Darling said. “The incident is being investigated by our internal affairs division, which will make use of the investigation being conducted by the Salt Lake Police Department.