PROVO, Utah (AP) — Two men have been arrested on suspicion of setting booby traps near a popular hiking trail in Utah.
Benjamin Rutkowski, 19, of Orem, and Kai Christensen, 21, of Provo, were booked Saturday into the county jail for investigation of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
A Forest Service law enforcement officer with military experience discovered trip wires for the booby traps at entrances of a crude shelter made of dead tree limbs in Provo Canyon, said Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon.
If activated, one trap was designed to send a device made with a large rock and sharpened sticks swinging toward the head of an unsuspecting hiker or camper.
The other trap was designed to cause a person to fall down on sharpened sticks placed in the ground.
Cannon said the shelter was one of many in an area frequented by hikers and campers.
“There was potential for some very serious injury to someone,” he told the Deseret News. “If someone fell the wrong way it could have been disastrous or even fatal.”
The suspects told authorities that they were targeting wildlife when they set the traps April 15, a day before the devices were discovered. The suspects said they had planned to return and take the shelter down but forgot.
But Cannon was skeptical the target was wildlife, saying that doesn’t make sense.
“We believe they knew people would be going there and that’s why they put them there,” Cannon said.
He said illegal marijuana farmers are known to use booby traps in remote areas, but he’s never heard of this type of device in a recreational area.
“People don’t go up expecting this and they shouldn’t have to,” he told the Deseret News.
Investigators used Facebook to find individuals familiar with the shelter and to locate the suspects.
It wasn’t immediately known whether the suspects had attorneys.
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