Aneth man charged with firing at officers

Cecil Vijil Jr., of Aneth, is in custody and faces a host of charges after gunshots were fired at law enforcement officials on April 30.

The charges include assault on a federal officer and discharge of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The potential penalty for the assault on a federal officer is 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the firearm count is up to life in prison with a 10-year mandatory minimum.

Vijil, who is in his mid-30s, is identified as the man who brandished an AR-style rifle and fired multiple rounds at two law enforcement officials, including FBI Special Agent Rachel Butler and a San Juan County Sheriff’s Deputy.

The officials were in Aneth to question Vijil and another Aneth-area
resident, Gary Lee Jr, about an AR-style rifle shooting at the Mexican Hat 7-11 earlier in the day.

After the shots were fired at the officers, the suspects fled.  This triggered a multi-state manhunt. Rewards for the arrest of Vijil totaled $6,000, with $5,000 from the FBI and $1,000 from the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office.

Vijil was arrested on May 3 while walking along Highway 491 near Towaoc, CO on the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation. He was arrested without incident by a Bureau of Indian Affairs officer.

An FBI spokesman reports they have spoken with Gary Lee Jr.  Charges were not filed at that time.

In a complaint filed in federal court, Butler stated that when the officers arrived, Vijil appeared at the door of the home and withdrew behind the residence.

The complaint continues, “Within seconds, Vijil reappeared from behind the residence with an AR-style rifle” and fired multiple rounds at the officers and their vehicle.

As the officers moved the vehicle to avoid the shots, Butler “saw Vijil reposition himself and his firearm so as to secure a better platform for firing his rifle... [Butler] believed she was about to be shot.”

No one was hit by the shots. The shooting occurred at 3:20 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.

Vijil and Lee reportedly fled the area in a black pickup truck.

A helicopter from the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) was dispatched to aid in the search on Thursday evening. The air search was abandoned after several hours of searching.

The two are suspected of being involved at an incident at the Mexican Hat 7-11 on Sunday, April 26, where beer sales were refused because the customer did not have proper identification.

They left after making threats to the store.  Early on April 30, a series of shots were fired at the 7-11 store.  

Video footage from Mexican Hat was used to trace the vehicle to the home in Aneth.

Agencies involved in the search include the FBI, Navajo Nation Police Department, San Juan County Sheriff’s Office, Utah Highway Patrol, Colorado State Patrol, BIA officers, Utah Department of Public Safety, and more.

The FBI is taking the lead in the multiple-agency investigation that crosses state lines and extends on and off of the Navajo Nation.

San Juan Record

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