Gang member shot, killed after lunging at court witness

Published: Monday, April 21 2014 10:20 a.m. MDT

Siale Maveni Angilau aka "C-Down" was shot multiple times in the chest Monday, April 21, 2014, at the new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City. He was shot after lunging at a person on the witness stand, according to the FBI.

Matt Powers, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A gang member on trial in federal court was shot and killed Monday by U.S. marshals after he attempted to attack a witness testifying against him.

"The defendant went after (a witness) … and when he engaged the witness at the witness stand, he was shot by the U.S. Marshals Service," said Mark Dressen the FBI's assistant special agent-in-charge for the Utah bureau.

"From what I understand, the defendant may have grabbed a pen or a pencil and charged the witness stand at that time," he said.

Siale Maveni Angilau — aka "C-Down" — was shot multiple times in the chest. He was reportedly still breathing when he was taken away in an ambulance, but he died in the early afternoon at a local hospital.

Oliver Petersen, 27, was seated as juror No. 1 and just a few feet away from the witness when the shooting occurred. He said a prison inmate — either a current or former gang member — was on the witness stand testifying about the daily activities of Tongan Crip Gang members and giving information such as who their enemies were, when Angilau attacked him.

"He was telling about the secrets and the activities of the TCG gang life. His testimony was going on and on for several minutes. Then, all of a sudden, that's when he was attacked," Petersen said. "I saw the defendant charge over and try to jump over the desk to reach the witness.

"Everything happened so quickly."

The marshal who was standing between the jury box and the witness stand took a step back as he drew his weapon, Petersen said, and then fired three to five shots from close distance at Angliau.

"After the marshal fired, he told everyone to stay down. And he kept his gun pointed at Siale because he was still alive as he went down," the juror said.

Perry Cardwell and his daughter, Sarah Jacobsen, were also in the courtroom.

"The witness was speaking about his gang life and how all that happened and came to be. And something must have upset the defendant and he just ran up and jumped over the witness stand to attack him," Jacobsen said. "It happened so fast that I'm not sure if he actually did get to attack him. But one of the servicemen was so fast with reflexes that he defended him."

Jacobsen also counted as many as five shots.

"(Angilau) just got up, ran up there, and looked like he probably got a hit in, right when he got shot," added Cardwell.

Defendants are typically not handcuffed or put in leg shackles while on trial so a jury won't be prejudiced by their appearance.

Angilau fell to the ground behind the witness stand after he was shot.

Dressen did not comment on how many shots were fired, how many times Angilau was hit, or if there were any stray bullets that ended up in the walls or ceiling of the new courtroom.

Cardwell said other marshals in the courtroom yelled, "Get down!" to people in the audience, while others yelled multiple times at Angilau, "Stop!"

"There was no way to break up that fight," he said. "I think (the shooting) was warranted because I don't see how you could break up that fight that was happening. So I do believe he did the right thing."

The shooting occurred inside Judge Tena Campbell's court on the eighth floor during a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act trial involving the member of the Tongan Crip Gang.

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