A federal grand jury has indicted four people on weapons charges in connection with the deadly shooting rampage at the Trolley Square mall.
The indictments include a licensed gun dealer and three people believed to have provided a gun to killer Sulejman Talovic.
The indictments were unsealed this morning and obtained by the Deseret Morning News. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah declined to comment until a news conference this afternoon.
Those indicted are:
Westley Wayne Hill, charged with unlawful transfer of a firearm and failure to make appropriate entry and maintain required records. Federal prosecutors allege he sold a Maverick Arms Model 88 12-gauge firearm, "knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that the purchaser was a person less than 21 years of age."
Hill is a licensed firearms dealer at Sportsman's Fast Cash Pawn, the indictment said. Sportsman's has stores throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
Mackenzie Glade Hunter, charged with being a user of controlled substances in possession of a firearm and unlawful transfer of a firearm to a juvenile.
Brenden Taylor Brown, charged with unlawful transfer of a firearm to a juvenile and making false statements to authorities.
Matthew Hautala, charged with making a false material statement.
According to the indictment, Hunter sold a Smith & Wesson .38 Special pistol to someone he knew was a juvenile.
"Further that he knew and had reasonable cause to know that the juvenile intended to carry or otherwise possess, or discharge or otherwise use the handgun in the commission of a crime of violence," the indictment said.
The indictment said Brown knew the gun would be going to a juvenile and lied to agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about giving the gun to Talovic in June 2006.
"The defendant stated that he did not purchase and receive, and subsequently sell and transfer a handgun in the summer of 2006, and further stated he has never owned a firearm; whereas the opposite was true," the indictment said.
Hautala is accused of lying to ATF agents about the transfer of the gun, which is believed to have been stolen out of state. The indictment said the gun went from a man named Kolby Darlington to Mackenzie Hunter in Rock Springs, Wyo., in 2006.Three of the people charged appeared in federal court this morning on the charges. Federal prosecutors said Hautala is in the military in South Carolina. Meanwhile, Hunter was allowed to be released on strict conditions of pre-trial release. Hill was not detained.
Killer's father reacts
Talovic's connection to the men and whether they knew he intended to use it in the mall massacre remain unclear.
Talovic's father, Suljo Talovic, was told of the indictments when contacted today by a Deseret Morning News reporter.
"It's good there are charges," he said in broken English.
Suljo Talovic said he worked with Hunter for about nine months during a job last year.
"I no talk to him," he said. "I only see him like ... work like different job."
Federal authorities told the Deseret Morning News that Hunter knew Sulejman Talovic and worked with him at one point.
Sulejman Talovic, 18, armed with the pistol-grip shotgun, the .38-caliber handgun, a backpack full of ammunition and a bandolier of shotgun shells around his waist, went on a killing spree inside the crowded Trolley Square mall on Feb. 12.
Stepping out of his vehicle in the parking terrace, police said he shot and killed Jeffrey Walker, 52, and wounded his 16-year-old son Alan "AJ" Walker. Outside the mall's west doors, he wounded Shawn Munns, 34.
Talovic killed Vanessa Quinn, 29, outside the Bath and Body Works store. Moving into the Cabin Fever card and novelty shop, he killed Teresa Ellis, 29; Brad Frantz, 24; and Kirsten Hinckley, 15. Hinckley's mother, Carolyn Tuft, 44, was wounded. So was Stacy Hanson, 53.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said the killing spree lasted about three minutes. Moving through the mall, Talovic encountered off-duty Ogden Police Officer Ken Hammond, who was on an early Valentine's Day date with his wife.Hammond got into a shootout with Talovic until Salt Lake City police officers raced inside the mall. Talovic was inside the Pottery Barn Kids store when he was confronted by the officers. Officers said Talovic fired on them in the hallway and took cover behind a door. Moments later he was shot to death by the officers.
Victims' families react
The families of some of the victims of the Trolley Square shootings reacted to the news of the indictments this afternoon.
"I think it's funny how people try to blame as many people as they can," said Nathan Ellis, whose wife, Teresa, was killed.
"It sounds to me like this kid would have gotten guns from whomever he could have," Ellis said. "If someone is bound and determined to do something, you really can't blame outside sources."
Still, Ellis said that it's important to obey laws, "sound laws or not," and that tightening gun laws may not be the answer in reducing gun violence.
"It's law abiding citizens who end up without guns," he said. "I think it's important to maintain our freedom to bear arms."
Ellis said justice needs to prevail on the four people indicted and that he will withhold judgment until they have a fair trial.
Investigation continuesComment on this story
The shooting remains under investigation by Salt Lake City police. Detectives and FBI agents have been piecing together a profile of a quiet "loner guy" who didn't interact with a lot of people. Burbank said Talovic's childhood in war-scarred Bosnia appears to have been an influence in his life.
In an interview with the Deseret Morning News in April, the Salt Lake City police chief said a motive still remains a mystery in the shooting rampage, and it may be something Talovic took to his grave.
"I think at the end of the day, we will have an idea of contacts and influences in his life," Burbank said. "My fear is we're not going to be able to point to any one thing and say, 'This is what caused him to do what he did.'"Salt Lake City police plan to make a report on their investigation into the Trolley Square rampage public. However, no timeline has been set for its release.
Contributing: Stephen Speckman E-mail: email@example.com