Officer called hero following Utah rampage


The Associated Press

P-1 Editor's Note -- Read about other off-duty heroes
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SALT LAKE CITY — An off-duty officer celebrating an early Valentine's Day with his wife repeatedly fired at a gunman who killed five people and wounded four at a shopping mall and "saved the lives" of numerous others, the police chief said Tuesday.

The 18-year-old gunman was killed in a shootout with police Monday night.

"He had one thing in mind and that was to kill a large number of people," Salt Lake City Chief Chris Burbank said.

"Heroic efforts by an off-duty officer distracted him and contained him in a position until officers arrived and actually resolved the situation," Burbank said.

The off-duty officer's "quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people," the chief said.

The gunman was identified as Sulejmen Talovic, who had a backpack full of ammunition, a shotgun and a .38-caliber pistol, police said. A motive still was unknown.

"We know very little, other than he was a resident [of] Salt Lake City and was 18 years old," the chief said.

No motive yet
Detectives were still trying to determine what sparked Talovic's rampage at the Trolley Square shopping mall on Monday night.

Card store Cabin Fever had been packed with Valentine's Day shoppers when the shooting started, said owner David Dean. He said his assistant manager called him, saying "someone's in the store killing people."

The place was "all shot up" when he saw it Tuesday, and Dean said he believed three or four of the victims died had died inside.

As investigators began interviewing the 100 to 200 witnesses, people placed candles and flowers at two memorials outside the mall for the victims. Business owners surveyed the damage, and shoppers who had fled returned to pick up cars they had to leave parked overnight.

Marie Smith, 23, a Bath & Body Works manager, said she had seen the gunman through the store window. She watched as he raised his gun and fired at a young woman approaching him from behind.

'An Average Joe' explodes
"His expression stayed totally calm. He didn't seem upset, or like he was on a rampage," said Smith, who crawled to an employee restroom to hide with others. He looked like "an average Joe," she said.

Killed in the attack were two 28-year-old women, a 52-year-old man, a 24-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, Snyder said. Four people were hospitalized — a man and a woman in critical condition and two men in serious condition, Snyder said.

For hours after the rampage, police searched stores for scared, shocked shoppers and employees who were hunkered down awaiting a safe escort.

Matt Lund was visiting his wife, Barbara, manager of the Secret Garden children's clothing store, when he heard the first shots. The couple and three others hid in a storage room for about 40 minutes, isolated but still able to hear the violence.

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