UTAH COUNTY (ABC4 News) – Friends of a Provo man who was fatally shot Monday night are speaking out.

Sgt. Nisha King with the Provo Police Department said Jeremy Sorensen and an 18-year-old woman were engaged in a physical altercation in a driveway near 500 North 200 East when a passerby pulled up and confronted Sorenson.

“That person got out of his car and told Sorensen to stop fighting and warned him he would shoot. At some point the man in the vehicle produced a firearm and shot Sorensen twice,” Provo Police stated in a Facebook post.

Evidence scene from fatal Provo shooting (6/03/2019)

Officials said Sorensen died from his injuries. Although additional details about the shooting have not been released by investigators, his friends and family told ABC4 News they believe lethal force was unnecessary.

“I’m shocked that someone could get out of their car and shoot someone. I think there were other ways of handling the situation. I think you should always call 911 first,” said Haley Sotelo, Sorensen’s friend.

Sotelo said Sorensen had a difficult upbringing, sharing that he was adopted by an LDS family when he was young.

“With adoption comes issues with abandonment and being a black person in a white family, there also comes issues of identity,” she said.

Jeremy Sorensen and friends

Matthew Jenks, who was Sorensen’s pastor described him as a hard-worker and a selfless friend who went out of his way to help others.

“Jeremy was at my home all the time. He spent time with my kids and he loved my daughter. Two weeks ago at church, my three-year-old sat next to him during the whole service. She keeps asking if she can visit him at the hospital, not comprehending the reality of his death,” said Jenks. “It’s one thing to have a friend pass away. But to have a friend shot and die unexpectedly, it’s just been devastating.”

Sotelo said what she came to learn as she got closer to Sorensen were his communicative and social behaviorisms.

“He wasn’t like every single person out there. He had some emotional challenges. He had trouble communicating with people. He had social anxiety, but he fought that every day because he wanted friends,” she said

Jeremy Sorensen and friends

Sotelo said his friends believed his actions may have been misunderstood and may have contributed to how Monday night’s events unfolded.

“One of the challenges that we saw is he might have been on the autism spectrum, although he was never officially diagnosed. That being said, he was not the type of person to hit first. He was not the type of person who was extremely violent,” said Sotelo.

Explaining that because Sorensen had experienced issues before as a black man, his family and friends are asking investigators to look into whether race was a factor in the shooting.

“What else was the passerby to think coming across a black male in a fight? Yes, a woman was involved, but he didn’t know the context,” said Sotelo. “He didn’t know who started the fight. Jeremy could’ve just been defending himself and shooting first without knowing isn’t right.”​​​​​​​

Jeremy Sorensen and son

As Sorensen’s loved ones prepare for his funeral Friday, they are asking for other gun owners to think twice if they find themselves in a similar situation.

“I’m not anti-gun. I’m for concealed carry weapons. However, as a superhero once said, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ As a gun owner, you have a responsibility to use your weapon correctly,” she said. “The world without Jeremy, for me, is going to be sad.”

As of Thursday, Sgt. King said the names of the other two individuals involved will not be released. She said detectives will meet with the county attorney Friday about the investigation and whether they will press any charges.

Provo Police Department released this update on their Facebook page Thursday:

“Our Detectives have conducted numerous interviews since last Monday. There is still a significant and ongoing investigation taking place. Mr. Sorensen and the female knew each other, though the nature of that relationship is still a matter of investigation. The woman suffered a concussion and other substantial injuries during that assault. When Mr. Sorensen was confronted by the passerby with a gun, numerous warnings were given to stop assaulting the female or he would shoot. Mr. Sorensen ignored several clear verbal warnings and continued to strike the female with a closed fist, bite her, and then began stomping on her head. The woman broke free from Mr. Sorensen and ran behind the passerby. More verbal warnings were given. Witnesses say Mr. Sorensen then began advancing towards both of them. It was then that shots were fired. This is still an open investigation. All persons are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

– Provo Police Department FaceBook page

UPDATE (12/16/2019) – The Utah County Attorneys Office announced they will not be filing criminal charges against the man accused of shooting Jeremy Sorenson. 

“Our team has carefully and thoroughly reviewed the evidence, including reports, interviews, recordings, and requests for additional information regarding the death of Jeremy Sorensen. We do not believe that the facts and relevant law support filing any criminal charges in this matter.” stated David O. Leavitt, Utah County Attorney.

The Utah County Attorneys Office also said admissible evidence would not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that laws were violated. Therefore, they are declining prosecution relative to this incident.

“The loss of any life is a tragedy. I express my appreciation to all involved in investigating and reviewing this matter, and express my sincerest sympathy to the Sorenson family for their loss.” said Mr. Leavitt.

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