SALT LAKE CITY — A man in full combat gear — including body armor and hundreds of rounds of ammunition — opened fire on a Salt Lake patrol officer Friday afternoon near the Grand America Hotel — the third Utah officer to be shot in just two days.
At approximately 3:37, police got a 911 call saying a man with a gun was pacing along State Street between 500 South and 600 South, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Robin Snyder. The man, identified by Snyder as 28-year-old Brandon S. Barrett, was in full military combat uniform, including body armor, a helmet and combat boots. Barrett was also carrying numerous rounds of ammunition and a "long gun," though police are unsure whether it was an assault rifle or a shotgun.
By 3:41, police officers were at the scene. Barrett "engaged immediately" in shooting at the officers and shot one in the leg, Snyder said.
Police are unsure exactly how many shots Barrett and police officers fired, but in the end, Snyder said, she believes the officer who was hit was able to return fire and kill Barrett.
In the aftermath of a brief shootout, multiple bullet holes could be seen in the windshield of a patrol car, and the bloodied body of the gunman, dressed in fatigues, lay on a patch of grass near the hotel.
In a photograph taken by the Deseret News, the fallen shooter appears to have 11 clips strapped to his body. His uniform featured a patch with the letters "ISAF," possibly the International Security Assistance Force, which is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan.
Police believe Barrett was a U.S. Army veteran, most recently stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash.
Pat Taylor and Tom Meyer of New Orleans said they were staying at the Grand America, near 600 South and State, and saw a man in fatigues as they were leaving the hotel's parking garage.
The man told Taylor and Meyer he was "training," and the two men said they thanked him for his service.
As they watched the man pace for a while, however, they became suspicious.
"We thought something was wrong," Taylor told the Deseret News. "I started to think he was going to kill somebody."
The men said they notified a passing Salt Lake police officer and contacted hotel security.
Minutes later, Taylor and Meyer said they heard as many as a dozen shots fired.
Other witnesses said they heard the firework-like sounds of gunshots and saw officers taking aim from behind patrol cars.
The unidentified officer was taken to the hospital in an ambulance with injuries that are not life-threatening, and he is expected to make a full recovery, Snyder said. He has been placed on paid administrative leave.
This is the third Utah police officer to come under fire in two days. South Salt Lake police officer Stevan Gerber was shot just before 1 a.m. Thursday while serving an arrest warrant near 3100 S. 300 East. Kane County sheriff's deputy Brian Harris was shot and killed just after 2 p.m. Thursday near Fredonia, Ariz., in pursuit of an armed suspect who is still at large.