The case is closed as the 15-year-old shooter, who shot and killed 15-year-old Paul Tahi and 14-year-old Tivani Lopati and injured 15-year-old Ephraim Asiata, took a plea deal.
Tahi’s family members are more than just disappointed.
“It’s heartbreaking honestly,” said Sinia Maile, Tahi’s cousin.
According to court documents, the shooter pled guilty to two counts of manslaughter and one count of discharge of a firearm.
As a result of being tried as a juvenile, the teen will be held in juvenile detention until he’s 21 years old. The family said they want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but six years behind bars isn’t long enough.
“We didn’t see it necessary for him [to be] put away for life, but we did want to see a consequence that would make us get closure from what happened,” Maile said.
Maile said Tahi was like a little brother to her.
She said her family has dealt with the court, but this was the first time they’ve been on the state’s side. Maile went on to say they put a lot of trust into the system, but the sentencing felt like a slap on the wrist, and no one fought for justice for the victims.
“It just felt like no one tried for our boys who we lost. There are two families who don’t have a son that’s returning home and one kid whose future is out the door,” Maile said.
Initial charging documents reported that one of the witnesses claimed the shooter was bullied by the victims.
In response to these claims, Maile said the school should’ve handled that much sooner and that no kid should ever feel the need to bring a gun to school.
“Just wondering why the school didn’t address that to us because we would’ve nipped that in the bud had we known,” Maile said.
She said the families of the victims are still heartbroken and Paul deserved better.
“He didn’t have an easy life. This is a kid that was sleeping over at a family member’s house just to get to school, so we just didn’t want it to end like this,” Maile said.
The families of the victims are holding a vigil in protest of the sentencing this Thursday, Dec. 7, at 35 E 500 S in Salt Lake City at 3 p.m.