South Jordan officer shot while trying to arrest suspect

Published: Friday, Aug. 27 2010 12:14 a.m. MDT

SOUTH SALT LAKE — A South Jordan police officer working with the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team was shot in the leg early Thursday while serving an arrest warrant on a man previously convicted of negligent homicide.

Officer Stevan Gerber underwent surgery Thursday at Intermountain Medical Center. He was listed in serious but stable condition.

Officers did not return fire on the gunman, because others, including an infant, were also inside the apartment. Instead, they backed away from the scene and were able to negotiate a surrender a short time later. Two men were arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of attempted aggravated murder of a police officer. Troy Cabibi, 29, was booked on two counts, and the second man, Bradley Olmos-Boatright, who turned 18 on Tuesday, was booked on one.

South Salt Lake police officer Gary Keller said he did not know which of the two men arrested is believed to have fired on officers. But one marshal reported seeing Cabibi fire, according to Salt Lake County Jail records.

Cabibi was previously convicted for shooting and killing a 21-year-old man in July 1998 in front of a Midvale convenience store. He was 17 at the time of shooting. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter in 1999 and was sentenced to serve up to 15 years at the Utah State Prison.

Cabibi was first paroled in September 2008. He violated his parole four months later and was sent back to the prison. He was paroled again in July 2009. Recently, Cabibi violated his parole with a new arrest, according to officials.

"It's the phone call you never want to get," said South Jordan Police Lt. Matt Evans, talking about when he received word of his co-worker being shot.

Gerber has been with South Jordan police for five years and is a member of their SWAT team. He has been a member of JCAT for less than two years. He has a wife and no children. His family was with him as he went into surgery Thursday.

The incident marked not only the first time a South Jordan police officer had been shot in the line of duty, but the first time in its 10-year history that a member of the JCAT team, which apprehends multiple violent fugitives every night, had been shot.

The shooting happened at a small apartment complex, 3064 S. 300 East, just before 1 a.m. JCAT officers could see Cabibi was inside the apartment, along with other people. They had information Cabibi would likely have a gun, said U.S. Marshal Chief Deputy Jim Thompson.

After failing to answer the door when JCAT members announced their presence, the officers forced open the door with a battering ram.

"They were immediately fired upon from inside the apartment," Keller said.

The JCAT team was just outside the doorway when the shooting started. "Several shots" were fired by the gunman, according to Salt Lake County Jail records. Gerber was struck once just above the knee. He was not the officer who crashed the door open, Thompson said.

After the shooting, two JCAT officers pulled their injured comrade to safety, and the team's on-site paramedic attended to him. The marshals did not fire back at the gunman, realizing that two more adults and an infant, who is Cabibi's child, were inside, in addition to other adjacent apartments being occupied.

"They showed tremendous restraint," Thompson said. "It's reflective of how well they are trained, how disciplined they are, to be able to have that kind of restraint. It's absolutely commendable."

Marshals immediately backed away to take cover from a secure location. They were able to convince the people in the second-story apartment to surrender without further incident a short time later.

Olmos-Boatright had a gun in his possession, jail reports state. Two guns were eventually recovered from the apartment, Keller said.

A woman who was also in the apartment at the time of the incident was questioned by police but was later released and allowed to take the infant.

At the hospital, Evans said, his officer was in "good spirits." Gerber's femur was fractured by the bullet.

At a parole hearing in 2006, Cabibi claimed he had fired at a group of people at the convenience store because they were taunting him. Arcides Saldigan, 21, was shot and killed. Cabibi said he had joined a gang at age 14 and then turned to drug dealing when he was 17, to pay for raising his child.

Cabibi promised the Board of Pardons at the hearing that he would turn his life around, avoid gangs and stay away from drugs "so I can prove myself to society that I'm capable of living in society."

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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