More details emerging on Trolley Square gunman and victims
State officials, business owners, clergy extend sympathies, offer help
Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News
A father died and his son survived Monday's night Trolley Square Shooting. A mother survived but her daughter perished.
Chance bullets, chance fatalities mark Salt Lake's deadliest shooting in recent history. New details continue to emerge about the survivors, the ones who died, the off-duty officer from Ogden being hailed as a hero and the teenage gunman, identified by police as Sulejman Talovic, who began it all.
Police have reported Talovic and his parents came from Bosnia. As of Tuesday, officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported Talovic was a legal resident alien who had been issued a "green card" when he and his family emigrated to the United States in 1998. Talovic received his green card in 2005.
"He is a legal permanent resident of the United States," said ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice. Although his nationality is listed on immigration documents as Croatian, one of Talovic's relatives said they are Bosnian.
A teacher described Talovic as a loner, but somone who didn't cause trouble.
The Ogden off-duty officer involved with an 18-year-old gunman at Trolley Square has been identified as Ken Hammond, a six-year veteran of the department. He was scheduled to appear at a press conference Tuesday night.
His chief, Jon Greiner, said the officer is "a very level-headed traffic officer. He's just a good, all-around officer. Does his job."
Hammond was involved in a shootout in the crowded mall that eventually left Talovic, a Bosnian refugee from Salt Lake City, dead.
Greiner said a "significant number" of Ogden police officers carry weapons off-duty. In fact, Greiner said, the wife of the officer involved in the shooting has a concealed weapon permit. The woman, who is not in law enforcement, was at the mall Monday evening with her husband for an early Valentine's dinner, but Greiner declined to say whether she was armed. "I'm not going to comment on that at this time," he said Tuesday.
Police identified the mall's shooting victims five who died and four others recovering from injuries in area hospitals.
Teresa Ellis, 29.
Brad Frantz, 25.
Kirsten Hinckley, 15.
Vanessa Quinn, 29.
Jeffery Walker, 53.
Wounded and hospitalized are:
Carolyn Tuft, 43, (the mother of Kirsten Hinckley).
Shawn Munns, 34.
Stacy Hanson, 53.
Alan "A.J." Walker, 16, (the son of Jeffery Walker).
Police remain tight-lipped about any possible motive behind the rampage, but detectives visited Talovic's South Salt Lake workplace Tuesday morning, Aramark Uniform Services, and questioned employees.
In a statement released Tuesday by the Salt Lake School District, officials released few details about Talovic, but did say he had been enrolled there.
"He attended several schools in our district ... many for a short time," said Jason Olsen, district spokesman. Olsen said Talovic last completed one term in the 2004-05 school year before he "withdrew in November 2004" to work.
Olsen declined to say when Talovic first enrolled or release any other information, saying "We're not going to go into his history."
But Danny Shwam was Talovic's ninth-grade teacher while he was enrolled in Highland-Garfield Alternative program.
"He was quiet and stayed to himself," but didn't cause any trouble, Shwam said. Asked about hearing that Talovic was identified as the Trolley Square gunman, Shwam said, "I guess it would be a total shock."
Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said Talovic drove his car to the mall, parked in the west parking terrace and encountered two people, including Munns, who he shot before entering the mall at about 6:45 p.m. as hundreds dined and shopped.
In the mall, he encountered a female who also was shot immediately, then went into a gift shop where there were five people, all of whom were shot. Moving through the mall, the gunman tried to shoot others, Burbank said. The chief said he could not say now how many shots were involved in the entire episode.
The shooting forced dozens to dive for cover and even hours afterward frightened shoppers were being escorted from the mall by police officers after being coaxed to safety.
Burbank praised Hammond who took action at the mall to intervene in the incident.
"There's no question his quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people. ... The heroic acts of this individual officer going in and engaging the suspect who was well armed and prepared to engage him, without having benefit of the uniform, extra equipment, ... is truly heroic."
Burbank said it was "basically a shootout" between Hammond and the gunman until other officers arrived and the suspect was killed. Four Salt Lake Police officers who discharged their weapons in the battle are on paid administrative leave, as is the off-duty Ogden officer. Such action is routine in officer-involved shootings.
Greiner said that although the gunman shot at Hammond, he was not injured. Greiner said the officer's wife was shaken, but is doing OK. "It's understandable, there was considerable carnage."
Burbank reiterated Monday night's devastation.
"As you can see, this individual was well-prepared," Burbank said, apparently referring to the young man's backpack filled with ammunition "He had one purpose." Burbank said the shooter used a shot gun and a .38-caliber handgun.
Soon, the entire area was cordoned off as a crime scene. Police remained at the mall even as late as Tuesday afternoon. By earlier in the day, officers allowed people to enter the mall's parking lot to retrieve their cars, one at a time. At one point, about a dozen people waited at the northeast entrance to the parking lot for their names to be called so they could go in and get their cars.
Witnesses who had returned to get their vehicles recalled the events of the tragic evening:
Verna Clark, Bountiful, was at Trolley Square Monday night with her husband and 7-month-old baby and her parents, who were visiting from out of town, to go to an antique store.
"We heard kind of like bang. At first we thought it was construction that was going on. It sounded like they were doing construction." She thought "it was really rude of them to be doing construction this time of night."
A man in the antique store beckoned them to come inside. A woman "starts to run down the stairs and she runs away from the stairs, and we duck in and we start hearing more of a bang. We're just kind of hiding behind, hiding in the store, we hear all these multiple bangs. First we hear the bang bang, which I think is the shotgun, I could hear the bang and then he reloads and pumps the gun, and then another bang.
"And then we actually got separated from my dad, and then we see that the off-duty policeman went down to my dad and pulled him out of the way. ... I wasn't looking out the window but someone was looking out the window and kind of telling us what was going on. We could hear the bang bang of I think of the off-duty policeman and the guy looking out the window could see one body down. And we were just concerned because we didn't know where my dad was. Then they told us it wasn't my dad.
"We were all kind of panicky in the room and we could hear a woman in the back crying. Then the policemen came, and they have a gun, and they just tell us to run out." Her husband, Hugh Clark, was running with the baby, James.
"We weren't sure if there was another gunman loose. ... They were just evacuating us out as quickly as possible."
She estimated the amount of time they were in the antique store as 15 or 20 minutes. "We weren't one of those people who got stuck in the mall for hours."
Anne Bagley, who lives in the Olympus Cove area, was at Trolley Square with her daughter and two granddaughters. They heard the shooting and hid. She said her daughters seem to be doing pretty well. She estimated the time between when she first heard shooting and a fusillade, probably when the gunman was killed, to be about 35 minutes. Afterward they could hear officers running across the roofs of the buildings.
Authorities, in releasing some of the details that are beginning to unfold from Monday's shooting, urged people to get help in the days, weeks and even months to come as the community attempts to heal.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson extended his sympathies during the press conference to families of victims of Monday's shooting and reassured the community that, "This is a safe place."
"We want to do everything we can to help," Anderson said. "At times like this, there is an enormous sense of helplessness. There is help available."
Anderson said counseling is available at Valley Mental Health and people can call its crisis line at 261-1442.
The mayor said managers at Trolley Square were meeting with employees to provide any needed counseling. On Tuesday the owners released a statement.
"We are devastated and shocked by this senseless, random act of violence at Trolley Square and will do everything we can to support the Salt Lake City Police in their investigation. In light of last night's event, the mall will not reopen today," said Tom Baird with Scanlan Kempard Bard Companies. "Our greatest concern and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones."
The city is offering help to police and firefighters, and Anderson especially singled out the "particular effect felt by children" after going through or viewing such a frightening episode.
"We urge everyone with children let them know they can talk about this openly, they don't have to hide their feelings."
Anderson said it is important for adults to do what they can to provide assurances to children that this was an isolated and very rare incident. "Notwithstanding what happened last night, this is a safe place," the mayor said.
Anderson said the city is experiencing the lowest serious crime rate in 14 years.
A memorial fund for victims has been established at Wells Fargo Bank.
On Utah's Capitol Hill, Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. called for flags to be flown at half staff throughout the state for one week, to honor the shooting victims.
Huntsman and his wife, Mary Kaye, issued a statement Tuesday expressing their "most sincere condolences to the grieving families affected by the devastatingly tragic events at Trolley Square Monday night. They also wish peace and consolation to all of the others who were involved," the statement said.
"Today is a day of grieving, and tomorrow we, as a community, will begin the healing process," Gov. Huntsman said. "This experience will make us stronger, binding us together. It is a time to be kinder to our neighbors, hug our children a little tighter and hold strong to the Utah tradition of reaching out to one another."
Huntsman has called on Utahns to lower state and U.S. flags immediately, until sunset Monday to honor the Trolley Square victims.
The governor is encouraging anyone who was present during the shooting to contact the Office of Crime Victim Reparations, a state agency that provides assistance to victims of violent crime. CVR is able to assist with several types of expenses including funeral expenses, medical expenses and mental health counseling expenses not covered by insurance or other collateral sources. For more information contact CVR at 801-238-2360 or visit at 350 E. 500 South, Suite 200 in Salt Lake City or go online to www.crimevictim.utah.gov. CVR hours were extended Tuesday to 7 p.m.
Also on Capitol Hill, the Utah Senate opened Tuesday's floor session by remembering the shooting victims.
"This is a very solemn occasion today," Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, said, reminding lawmakers they still "have a responsibility to continue with the people's business."
Valentine said the event was "tragic," and "when the true story comes out, there will probably be many heroes."
Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake, who lives just a block and a half from the mall, said, "it is a sad day for my district and my neighborhood."
McCoy said that despite the shootings and last summer's slaying of young Destiny Norton, "this area of the city and the neighborhood is a good place and there are good people who live there. We will persevere."
He offered special thanks Hammond for making "a horrible situation not be more horrible, by helping to pin the shooter down" as Greiner sat quietly nearby.In Tuesday's opening prayer, Pastor Stan Arias of the Vernal Christian Church, said, "our hearts are broken. We have seen the sad and the dark side of humanity."
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