Six miles… Nineteen minutes… and one man dead. The next day, police detectives were fanning out across Salt Lake County, scouring as many as fifteen crime scenes. All this, after a crime spree gripped the Salt Lake Valley. Below is a timeline of events…
SHOTS FIRED DOWNTOWN
The call went out before noon on Monday. Someone had fired shots at a building – the Sheraton Hotel at 500 South and 115 East in Salt Lake City. Officers responded and the chase had begun.
“We have a white pick-up truck, with an Arabic male driving, with a silver handgun,” a dispatcher’s voice crackled over the radio. At least six squad cars were already in pursuit, south-bound on State Street, the busiest surface street in the Salt Lake Valley.
A MOVING “ACTIVE SHOOTER” SITUATION
“I’ve got it,” an officer’s voice popped on the radio, and with each block, more officers joined in on the chase.
A white Ford F-250 pickup truck was barreling down State Street, weaving in and out of traffic, cutting off unsuspecting drivers and staying ahead of police cruisers. A dispatcher would warn officers that the truck and the driver fit descriptions, given by witnesses, at two armed robberies earlier in the morning.
But then, about five minutes into the chase, a more alarming message came over the police radio… “He has an AR-15 in his hands, as he’s driving.”
Officers now knew they had an active shooter situation and it was moving at thirty miles per hour. Commanders quickly made the decision not to pull back from the chase as the situation was simply too dangerous. They kept their distance — about three car lengths — but they stayed on the suspect.
A PIT MANEUVER
About 15 minutes into the chase another police cruiser emerged, eastbound on 3300 South, ahead of the suspect. The officer inside could be heard asking command for permission to execute a pit stop maneuver, ramming the runaway truck as it passed through the intersection.
“Do it!” the watch commander shouted.
The officer’s cruiser moved forward but only clipped the back of the pickup truck. “It’s too dangerous! I can’t do it!,” the officer said over the radio. Ramming the truck might have pushed it into innocent drivers passing through the intersection at the moment of impact.
The pit maneuver appeared not to work, but within a few seconds, the truck swerved, jerked left, bounced over the median curb, crossed two lanes of oncoming traffic and crashed into a store. This happened just south of the intersection at 3300 South State Street.
A DEADLY CONFRONTATION
It was there, at that moment, the chase ended, and the situation instantly turned into an armed confrontation.
Within seconds, scores of officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department, the Utah Highway Patrol and Unified Police Department moved in and opened fire. Commanders would later report hundreds of rounds were pumped into the truck. The suspect was dead at the scene.
The next day, law enforcement commanders expressed astonishment and relief no one was harmed. “Just the totality of what occurred, we are very, very fortunate,” said Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera.