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Utah university manhunt after student killed in carjacking

Police were hunting in mountain terrain near the university Tuesday morning, searching for the suspected shooter, who is a suspect in a homicide last week in Colorado


By Lindsay Whitehurst
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — A fatal carjacking attempt near the University of Utah late Monday left one student dead and touched off a campus-wide lockdown as hundreds of police officers swarmed buildings and nearby foothills and canyons in search of the suspected gunman.

Utah police were hunting in mountain terrain near the university Tuesday morning, searching for the suspected shooter, who is a suspect in a homicide last week in Colorado.

A police officer searches for a gunman near the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Police say a deadly shooting occurred near the school campus on Monday. (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
A police officer searches for a gunman near the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Police say a deadly shooting occurred near the school campus on Monday. (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

ChenWei Guo, a 23-year-old international student, was killed, university spokesman Christopher Nelson said. Guo was studying pre-computer science and was a peer adviser in the International Student and Scholar Services Office.

University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy said early Tuesday that an injured woman came to the school and reported that her husband had assaulted her while they were camping in Red Butte Canyon, which abuts the campus.

Brophy said authorities were searching for the woman's husband, 24-year-old Austin Boutain, who is suspected in the fatal shooting and attempted carjacking at the mouth of the canyon.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, Brophy said Boutain and his wife are wanted in a homicide in Golden, Colorado, that occurred late last week.

Brophy said authorities believe the Boutains have been in Utah for several days and were camping in the foothills above the University of Utah.

Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown said Boutain should be considered armed and dangerous. They believe he still has at least one weapon. The suspect had a 12-14 hour head start as he went into canyons near the campus, Brown said.

Kathleen E. Boutain was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Tuesday on unrelated drug and theft charges, according to Salt Lake County jail records.

At least eight law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, were on the scene during Monday night's manhunt. A helicopter and armored vehicle were assisting the search in the scrubby mountain foothills and trails just above campus.

Authorities said they believe Boutain is in the foothills above Red Butte Canyon but were continuing to search the campus. Police said they believe the canyon and its popular hiking trails will be closed all of Tuesday.

The university sent an alert at 9 p.m. to students and staff to shelter in place. The lockdown ended six hours later.

University officials canceled Tuesday classes. Campus services are open and counseling services are available, President David W. Pershing said in a statement.

The school of about 32,800 students is Utah's flagship university and sits on more than 2 square miles (5.18 sq. kilometers) nestled against mountains on the east side of Salt Lake City.

Guo, one of thousands of international students at the University of Utah, came to the U.S. in 2012 and dreamed of owning his own consulting company. He enjoyed skydiving, skiing and horseback riding, according to his biography on the school's International Student and Scholar Services website.

Pershing said the university has been in contact with the student's parents in China. Pershing described the violence as "senseless, random act of violence."

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