Surveillance captures suspect in SLC police shooting

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SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Wade Van Tassell was working at his desk when he heard a commotion coming from the first floor.

“It was some banging, clinging, I could tell what it was,” recalled Van Tassell. “All of a sudden I heard massive glass shattering.”

He said he came out of his office and could hear an employee call for him. Van Tassell began walking towards the stairs when a stranger was coming up towards him.

“We saw each other and he was walking up the stairs with his gun pointing like this,” said Van Tassell “He was never pointing it at me.”

That man was Michael Zahn, 35, who moments earlier got away from two Salt Lake City police officers.

Surveillance video from Van Tassell’s business showed Zahn running from police and jumping over a fence that provides security around their business, DepoMaxMerit. 

Wednesday, police were chasing Zahn because for a parole violation.  After scaling the six-foot fence, the two officers could be seen near the fence when one appeared to shoot towards Zahn, but the shot did not appear to hit its target.  

The surveillance video showed Zahn breaking into DepoMaxMerit.

“He shot through the building to get into the building,” one of the officers could be heard on the police scanner recorded by broadcastify.com.

But no one was in that office where Zahn broke in. One of the employees said she hid in a separate room as Zahn made his way upstairs where he met Van Tassell.

“He says to me ‘how do I get out?’ and I said ‘just walk down those stairs and you can walk out that front door and you’ll be out,'” Van Tassell recalled saying.

Van Tassell left on the opposite direction but as he made his way out he was unsure if Zahn had left the building.  He along with a co-worker made their way outside.  But then they realized the gates to the fence surrounding their building was locked.

“We were trapped by our own security,” he said.

But an officer summoned them towards him and told them to hide in a separate corner away from the officer.

“He said don’t get by me because (the suspect) will be shooting at me,” Van Tassell said.

But Zahn never came outside and a SWAT team eventually took the pair to safety.

Members of the SWAT team eventually made their way back into the building and onto the second floor.  The police scanners indicated they used a flash bang before entering the conference room.

“He’s dead from a gunshot to the head,” an officer could be heard on the police scanner.

“(I’m) glad it’s over,” Van Tassell said.  “It just feels like it didn’t happen.  It really was a strange situation.”

But he said these types of situations can happen at any business.  Van Tassell still supports the efforts of the city and police in cleaning up the area around the homeless shelters.  

“I like the fact that police are around more often,” he said.  I think it will just get better.  We’re not going to dwell on it.”

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