SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Witnesses say police shot a homeless 16 year-old boy following an altercation near the Rio Grande District in Salt Lake City.
“Our officers were responding to a situation in front of the shelter here. While they were on scene there were shots fired, our officers called for assistance, several people were agitated in the crowd, our officers encountered a lot of hostile people who were upset about what had happened,” said Det. Greg Wilking with Salt Lake City Police.
This all began around 8:30 this evening. Witnesses who knew the suspect say he was a 16 year-old African-American homeless teen no taller than 5’4″ and weighing close to 100 lb.
Witnesses tell ABC4 News that the teen had been drinking and was carrying a weapon. There were conflicting reports from witnesses as to what exactly that weapon was, some said it was a lead pipe while others said it was a broom stick.
An altercation then took place between the teen and another individual near the homeless shelter that was witnessed by several people.
“What happened was, I was just posted up over here just chilling over here and I look over to my left and I see a little dude, he just got like a little broomstick, like a broken broomstick. So, what happened was he was trying to hit him, and he was missing them all because he was drunk you know? He was hella drunk so I see two police come over I thought they had tasers the whole time, nah these boys had guns! So, they come over here they tell him to ‘freeze,’ he don’t hear them and he can’t do nothing because he drunk, so they run up on him and start shooting, pow, pow, pow, pow!” said a homeless youth who wanted to go by the name Taylor.
Witnesses reported hearing anywhere between 4-6 gun shots go off and said the teen was shot in the chest at least 3 times. Those on scene also said the teen was killed but police could only confirm that someone had been transported to the hospital and their condition was unknown.
“It’s too early to tell, I don’t know if any are deceased, I know we have people in the hospital right now, I have no idea of age, race, gender anything like that at this point,” said Det. Wilking.
Shortly after the shooting a riot took place near Rio Grande and 200 S Street. Multiple agencies responded to the scene from West Valley City, Salt Lake City, Unified Police, and Utah Highway Patrol to control the rioters. Police were in full riot gear as they tried to subdue the crowd who were throwing rocks and debris at officers.
” I walked over to go to a concert and decided to come this way and was just chaos,” said Adam Lane. “Homeless people throwing things, cops..it was nutty…People were rioting it was crazy. I saw police tackle someone, police were chasing some car or something, I don’t know, what was happening.”
Police immediately shut down the area near the homeless shelter, setting up a police barrier rendering the homeless shelter inaccessible via Rio Grande Street from the north. Around 9:30 p.m. police said homeless trying to gain access to the shelter could do so from 500 W. Utah Transit Authority announced it had shutdown Blue Trax line services in the area until further notice.
As of 10:30 pm. police had their mobile command unit and officers had shut down 200 S from 500 W to 300 W as they began their investigation into the incident.
“It was a very active scene for the officers involved down there and they needed other officers to respond, people were very upset and very emotional. We want anyone who saw it to come forward and talk to us so we are able to determine what took place,” said Det. Greg. Wilking with Salt Lake City Police.
Wilking also acknowledged officers were equipped with body cameras but at the moment are not sure whether they were activated during the shooting.
“We have to understand that there’s an officer involved shooting protocol that everybody has to go through. Until the investigation is complete those body cameras will not be released because we’re having Unified investigate this incident,” added Wilking.
Salt Lake City Police also say several people were detained but have no details for what specific reasons and say those detained may have just been detained for questioning.
ABC4 News will continue to update this story as more details become available from this developing story.