SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – With an uptick in violent crimes in Salt Lake County, top law enforcement leaders are making some big changes that they hope will send a message to anyone planning to use a firearm to commit a violent act in the county.
In a press conference held at the District Attorney’s Office, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said “no criminal charge arising from the use of a gun or relating to an unlawful use or possession of a gun in the commission of a crime will be reduced as a part of any plea bargain.”
This comes just weeks after University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe was shot and killed at a party in Sugarhouse. Though formal charges have been filed against the 22-year-old Buk Buk, the man accused of the shooting, a look back at Buk’s criminal background shows several felony charges, many involving weapons, and robbery. He served very little prison time as most of his crimes were settled through plea deals. Gill says those deals are now off the table and those accused of violent gun crimes will get the book thrown at them.
Officials say many of the guns being used in recent crimes are being stolen from legal gun owners. So, they’re pleading with anyone who legally owns a firearm to properly store it.
During Wednesday’s press conference Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said” Lock your guns up, we have too many car and home burglaries that we are taking the reports on, and individuals are reporting that their guns are being stolen.”
According to the Salt Lake County Criminal Justice Advisory Council, 36% of offenders booked into jail have a prior violent crime booking, but there were 64% who had no prior bookings.
Rivera says Salt Lake County law officials are finding more of the recent crimes being committed who don’t have a violent history.”That means they are finding guns that available to them and using them” added Rivera
According to Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown, “nearly” 500 firearms were taken into evidence in 2021. Brown says every lead to arrest someone in connection to a violent gun crime is crucial in keeping Salt Lake County streets safe