SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Michael Bruce Peterson was caught sleeping on the stairs leading into the Nectar Massage Therapy.
That was a few minutes before he was shot and killed by police during a confrontation outside the Maverik convenience store at 500 East and 300 South.
According to those in the building, Peterson continued wandering through the building before settling himself on a massage table.
“I have never seen him before,” said Juls Snowden. “He just barged into my office and asked to give him a massage. I told him that’s not what I do here.”
Snowden said he wouldn’t leave and kept insisting on a massage.
“Give me a massage, please, you can do it,” Peterson said.
She told him that’s not what she did there at the business. Snowden said she called 911. She again told him he had to leave.
“He wouldn’t,” she said. “He looked like he was going to cry. So I called 911 again.”
She said another co-worker called 911 and that’s when Peterson confronted that person as well.
“He got off the bed and came towards her and said ‘yeah, I want to talk with police and tried to get the phone off her hand unsuccessfully,'” Snowden said.
She said that’s when Peterson finally left the building.
Salt Lake City’s police chief said he groped one of the employees. Snowden said it was a co-worker.
“He went in and with both hands, grabbed the buttocks of one of the female workers,” said Chief Mike Brown.
Chief Brown said an officer spotted him outside and confronted Peterson outside a nearby Walgreens. But he said Peterson continued to walk in a northerly direction avoiding questions by the officer.
Chief Brown wouldn’t comment about what happened next but John Haglund who works at a nearby bank was working and happened to look outside.
“The officer stopped the gentleman and tried to put him up in one of the cars in the parking lot,” said John Haglund.
He said there was a struggle between the officer and Peterson. At one point, Haglund said Peterson swiped the officer’s baton and started assaulting the officer with it.
“I saw the officer take five or six blows from the man,” said Haglund. He knocked the officer down and about that time two other officers arrived in cars.”
Haglund said there was a standoff between the officers and Peterson and they gave orders for him to stop. He said Peterson still had the baton in his hand when he started moving towards them.
“He did not respond to their suggestions to stop and made another move towards the first officer and that’s when they opened fire,” Haglund said.
The police chief wouldn’t confirm what Haglund saw. He said the shooting is under investigation and details of what happened are still being gathered.
“His behavior was described as very erratic and different,” said Chief Brown.
He didn’t have any information about whether Peterson had a gun with him. He said once the investigation is complete, the public will have an answer. He also said it’s not for him to determine if the shooting was justified. That will be up to the West Valley Police Department and the Salt Lake District Attorney to make that determination. But he did say his officers involved in the shooting were well trained and veterans of the police force.
“This was a very dynamic, a very violent, intense encounter,” he said. “With the injuries, the impact of the tools, a taser being deployed, there were all levels of use of force being enacted in this situation.”
He said one of his officers suffered a broken nose and ankle and lacerations. The second officer suffered bruising on his arm and cuts.”They’re recovering with their family and are where they should be,” he said. “I want to tell those who have sent their wishes and kept our officers in their thoughts and prayers over this difficult time thank you very much. It’s very much appreciated.”
As for Snowden, she said he made he choice to fight with police and there are consequences.
“I felt really bad to hear that,” she said. “It felt like it was really a stupid decision on his part to keep coming at police and start beating an officer and expect nothing to go down. So I felt bad that he made that decision.”
According to the Utah Department of Corrections: Peterson was first incarcerated from 9/1997 – 7/2007. On 08/25/1997, the offender was sentenced to USP for Attempted Murder and Tampering with a Witness. On 09/26/1997, the offender was sentenced to USP for Possession with Intent to Distribute of a Controlled Substance and Theft by Receiving Stolen Property.
He has been on parole since his release from prison in 2007 with several parole violations that brought him back to prison for various lengths of time.
He also has a newer charge from 2009 for Failing to stop/respond to command of police.
Most recently, he served prison time for a parole violation from March 2017 to August 2017. He paroled from prison to the Fortitude Treatment Center in August.