02/13/2007

SLC police release information about gunman and victims

By Pat Reavy, Ben Winslow and Wendy Leonard
Deseret Morning News

Surround by yellow police tape, the Trolley Square mall was to stay closed Tuesday in the wake of a shooting rampage in which police said a teenage gunman and five other people were killed there Monday night.

In the meantime, new details emerged about the shooter, who sources told the Deseret Morning News is a Bosnian immigrant who worked at Aramark Uniform Services in South Salt Lake. Detectives were on the scene Tuesday morning questioning co-workers.

Information also continued to unfold about the victims.

Police Detective Robin Snyder today identified the gunman killed by police as an 18-year-old Salt Lake City teen. His name was not immediately released, pending notification of relatives.

Five people killed Monday night were three females — two 28-year-olds and a 15-year-old; — and two males — a 52-year-old and 24-year-old. Their names were not released pending notification of relatives.

Four people were hospitalized with injuries: a 34-year-old male in serious but stable condition and a 53-year-old male, 44-year-old female and adult male of unknown age, all in critical but stable condition.

The number of others injured who did not require hospitalization was not immediately released.

Police received the first 911 call from the mall at 6:44 p.m. Monday. The first officer was on the scene at 6:47 and could hear gunshots coming from inside the mall, Snyder said.

Three to four officers formed what police call an "Emergency Action Team," meaning rather taking the time to establish a perimeter they instead immediately entered the mall to find the gunman.

At some point, the exact time was not immediately released, an off-duty Ogden police officer confronted the gunman and along with the Emergency Action Team, cornered him and killed him in the mall, Snyder said.

The gunman had a shotgun and a handgun in his possession along with several unspent rounds of ammunition, Snyder said.

Police found the gunman's vehicle Monday night and as a precaution had a bomb squad go through it. Nothing of interest was found in the car, Snyder said.

Tuesday morning, the mall remained shut down and surrounded by yellow police tape, police cars and news media trucks. Police expected to complete their crime scene investigation by about 8:30 a.m. At 8 a.m., police were completing a final walk-through of Trolley Square with the mall's management.

Tuesday morning the mall's parking lot was still full of cars because shoppers and employees were sent home Monday night without their vehicles.

Police announced that after 9 a.m. Tuesday, mall shoppers and employees can go to retrieve their vehicles from mall parking lots. Mall workers will be at each parking entrance where those retrieving their vehicles will have to check in.

Snyder said police officers' hearts go out to the victims and their families.

Tuesday morning, some lit candles and a rose were placed at the mall at the corner of 500 South and 600 East. Police said the mall will be closed all day.

Steve Farr, owner of Payne Anthony Jewelers at Trolley Square, said the mall's interior Tuesday morning was littered with broken glass. He said all the glass fronting the Cabin Fever store was shot out.

Asked about the shooting occurring in the normally peaceful Trolley Square mall, Payne said, "I've worked here for 28 years. It's the safest place to be and I still feel that way."

Eyewitnesses said the gunman first began shooting outside the mall at about 6:45 p.m. Monday, near the parking terrace.

"He was in the west parking lot; he came out from underneath. I looked and I said, 'That guy has a gun!"' said Ron Mason, who was sitting by the windows of the Desert Edge Brewery. "I saw him pump and shoot a couple of rounds when he's coming from the parking lot into the building."

Inside the mall, chaos erupted.

"I saw a guy run in the hallway in front of our store, and he stopped, kind of ran back. People were yelling and screaming, and I heard glass break," said Marie Smith, a clerk at Bath and Body Works on the first level.

Shaking, she described watching a girl die in front of her.

"He turned and there was a girl standing in front of our store. He shot her. I saw him shoot her," she said, her voice trembling. "She's dead."

Smith said she ducked behind a counter as the man went running toward the Pottery Barn Kids store. More gunfire was heard. Customers in the store locked themselves in a bathroom.

Restaurants inside the mall were packed Monday night with people eating dinner. JoAnne Mayo and her mother were leaving the Spaghetti Factory on the second level when they heard the shots and saw the man.

"He just stood there, and he was shooting," Mayo said.

Brad Merrill was waiting with his son outside the restaurant when he said the shooter ran up the stairs and "blew the doors and windows off." Inside the restaurant, people huddled in corners.

Cedric Wilson was working at the Rodizio Grill when he heard shots. He said he walked outside to see what the commotion was about when he encountered the gunman, who was still on the first floor.

"I looked down, and I saw him, and he pointed the gun at me and shot twice," Wilson said. "I dropped to the ground as soon as I heard the shot."

One of the shotgun blasts grazed his head, taking out a small chunk of hair.

Antique-shop owner Barrett Dodds was on the second floor when he heard the shots and ran down the hall, telling people to shut their doors.

"I see him still down there, still shooting away. I see another guy creeping up," Dodds said. "I make eye contact with him, and I'm pointing at the first guy. The second guy says 'Ogden City Police Department.' So I kind of direct him to where he (the shooter) was."

Witnesses said the off-duty Ogden police officer exchanged gunfire with the man in the main corridor of the mall. Salt Lake City police officers arrived a short time later and confronted the man near the Cabin Fever card shop.

Matt Lund, who was hiding with his wife in a shop, said he heard several officers yell, "Police! Drop your weapon!" There was a pause, and then a shotgun blast.

"I definitely heard the shotgun first, then I heard a barrage of gunfire," he said.

Snyder said police are still trying to determine a motive in the shooting.

"We're just trying to figure out where it started and why this happened," she said Monday night. "There was one shooter. We have no indication that anyone else was involved in this. That shooter is dead."

Eyewitnesses described the shooter as white, about 6 feet tall, with brown hair. He was wearing a tan overcoat and a backpack.

"He was reloading," Dodds said. "He would squeeze off two while he had one in the chamber. He would reload so it was never empty."

Dodds said it looked to him like the gunman was "hunting" people, raising his gun to aim at people.

"His expression seemed totally calm," Smith said.

Others said that outside the mall, the gunman looked angry.

Inside the mall, broken glass was everywhere. Lund said he saw many empty shotgun shells and a woman lying face down near the Pottery Barn Kids store. A man's body was in the main hallway.

Paramedics and firefighters rushed to treat the wounded. Outside the mall, a young woman was seen being hurried into an ambulance. Blood ran down her face as paramedics held an oxygen mask to her.

Two shooting victims were taken to University Hospital and two were taken to LDS Hospital.

University Hospital had placed themselves on "massive casualty alert," Intermountain Healthcare spokesman Jess Gomez said Monday.

"We prepared our trauma team to receive a significant number of patients," he said. "However, we've just received the two."

A spokeswoman for Salt Lake Regional Medical Center said one person was brought to the hospital from the scene for observation but was not injured.

Police officers in full SWAT gear went through the mall, discovering more and more frightened people huddling in back rooms, dressing rooms, closets, bathrooms and anywhere else they could hide. One group of people locked themselves in a freezer to stay safe.

"This whole four-block area is a crime scene right now," Snyder said Monday night. "It's a huge area. There were a lot of people inside." 

Copyright 2007 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

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