Violence Escalating, Police Chief Says


Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner is concerned about the rising violence among those involved with drugs. Feeding that concern is an arrest this week for possession of an illegal weapon, and a recent home invasion.

"This shows an escalation. We have arrested this man numerous times for meth problems," Gartner said.

Payson Police Officer Chad DeSchaaf arrested Lon Franklin St.Clair, 35, Payson, for carrying an illegal sawed-off shotgun Monday.

DeSchaaf responded to a report of a man walking down Bonita with what appeared to be a gun wrapped up in something at about 10:45 a.m., Monday, March 3.

St.Clair was found in the drainage area behind the Texaco north of West Bonita.

The witness making the report told police it appeared the gun was wrapped in a tan coat. The police were called, and the witness kept dispatch advised of the man's movements until officers arrived.

The caller said their first thought was that it was some psychopath going to shoot his wife or girlfriend.

The resident who made the call on St. Clair said the police response was great.

Possession of a sawed-off shotgun and concealing it are felony charges, according to Police Lt. Don Engler. St. Clair also was carrying a handgun.

Gartner said the man also had gunpowder and rubber gloves.

St. Clair reportedly told DeSchaaf the weapons had been stolen, he had retrieved them from the thief and was returning them to their owner, Engler reported.

It was also reported that St. Clair had broken the shaft of the shotgun in the drainage ditch.

"You don't damage something when you're returning it to its owner. There is no doubt in my mind Officer DeSchaaf prevented a much more serious crime with this arrest," Engler said.

"We don't think he was carrying it to take a walk in the park. There is an escalation in how (violently) they're treating each other.

"And they're more than willing to take action against the police. Our Special Response Team has repeatedly encountered them with firearms. People need to be aware. It was because a resident was alert and made a call to us we were able to make this arrest," Gartner said.

A week earlier, Anthony Paul Chambers, 24, was arrested for robbery, burglary in the second degree and threats.

Chambers spent 1.5 years in prison for facilitation to commit burglary in the first degree after a plea agreement March 2, 1998. Chambers was part of the "Payson 11" group involved in the shooting death of Clarence Morrison Sept. 21, 1997.

Gartner identified Chambers as one of St. Clair's associates.

Monday night, Feb. 24, Chambers reportedly forced his way into a home on South Ridgeway and took a stereo and keys, threatening the resident if they contacted police.

Early Tuesday, Feb. 25, Chambers was arrested on North Holly Circle. Later, at about 7:45 p.m., a search warrant was served on the Holly Circle residence and the stolen property was secured.

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