WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Charges have been filed against a teen suspect accused of fatally shooting two Hunter High students, while seriously injuring another.
The 14-year-old suspect’s charging documents were filed in juvenile court on Jan. 26 and state that he’s facing two counts of murder, one count of felony discharge of a firearm with serious bodily injury, one count of felony discharge of a firearm with injury, one count of possession of a dangerous weapon on school premises, and one count of possession of a weapon by a minor.
Police interviewed multiple suspects who were involved in the fight and witnesses who were near the scene during the investigation and composed the following recollection of the ordeal, according to the charging documents.
On Jan. 13, around 11 a.m., police responded to reports of a shooting at 4100 S Mountain View, finding two teens that had been shot and killed. 15-year-old Paul Tahi and 14-year-old Tivani Lopati, both students of Hunter High School, were identified as the victims. A third teen, Ephraim Asiata, 15, was transported to a local hospital with one gunshot wound and survived his injuries. He is currently recovering in the hospital.
Witnesses and the 911 caller told police that it appeared a group of “juveniles had been having a physical fight when three to four shots were fired.”
When detectives interviewed a witness to the incident, he told them that he and his friends “had been involved in a dispute for more than a year with a group that included the teens that were shot and killed.”
According to that witness, on Jan. 12, he was threatened by members of the rival group who told him they would beat him up if he came to school the next day. In response to the threat, the minor brought a gun to school on Jan. 13, according to charging documents.
He told police that a physical fight started between his friend and another person. Someone passing by shouted at the group of teens fighting who then separated. The witness says he and his friends began walking away when some teens from the opposite group caught up to them and jumped them. The witness said during the fight, he heard gunshots, charging documents show.
Another teen from the opposite group of Paul Tahi and Tivani Lopati corroborated these details saying that the group pretended to walk away but turned around and started chasing the other group.
The minor who was reportedly threatened told police he threw the gun he was carrying away, which was loaded, into a ditch. That gun was later recovered by police.
The suspect told police a similar story of how his group of friends “had been harassed by a group of Tongan males at school” and one of his friends stated that he would fight them one-on-one, according to charging documents.
The 14-year-old suspect told police that when the two groups dispersed after the passerby had shouted at them, the opposite group attempted to fight them again and this is when the minor took out his gun and shot into the crowd before running away. He then threw the gun, which was later located by police.
One witness who was walking from the school saw the minor who’s been charged pull out a gun and shoot at other people involved in the fight, charging documents show.
On Sunday, hundreds of community members drove through the parking lot of the Intermountain Medical Center with ribbons and well wishes to give their support to the family of Ephraim Asiata, as well as to the families of Tivani Lopati and Paul Tahi.