Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Roughly 100 officers from several police agencies from across the Salt Lake Valley rushed to downtown Salt Lake on Saturday night when an individual was shot in an altercation and prompted a riot near The Road Home, police said.
Salt Lake Police detective Greg Wilking could not confirm whether the individual was shot by a police officer, but said "it's a possibility."
"We know somebody has been shot, and we're taking him to the hospital," Wilking said. "We don't know the (victim's) condition at this point."
He said officers responded to an altercation in front of The Road Home on Rio Grande Street, and shots were fired while they were on scene.
"Officers called for assistance. Several people were agitated in the crowd," the detective said. "Our officers arriving on scene encountered a lot of hostile people upset about what had taken place."
Wilking did not have details about how the shooting occurred, but he said Unified police are conducting an investigation in case it is an officer-involved shooting.
"It's a very active scene. We're trying to get people to calm down so we can actually investigate this and make sure everybody's all right," he said.
Selam Mohammad, 19, told reporters he was with his friend, a 17-year-old from Kenya, when an altercation broke out.
Mohammad said his friend had a broomstick in his hand when he engaged in a confrontation with a man. That's when Mohammad said he and his other friends tried to break up the fight.
But Mohammad said officers “ran up with their guns pulled out” and told his friend to drop the broomstick.
“He barely even turned around, then boom, boom, boom — and he just dropped,” Mohammad said. “I know he got hit in the chest and in the stomach.”
Mohammad said he was worried about his friend's condition and was trying to find a ride to the hospital to check on him.
He said "there's a reason" people were was outraged by the situation. Police, he said, were “out of line.”
“My friend didn’t do anything,” Mohammad said. “He wasn’t hitting anybody. He wasn’t swinging at the guy or anything.”
Police barricaded a four-block radius around Rio Grande Street as police from several surrounding police agencies — including Sandy, West Valley and the Utah Highway Patrol — rushed to the scene, some gearing up with riot shields.
"It's taking a lot of resources," Wilking said. "We're locking down the area, barricading off streets and having a strong officer presence in the area."
Some onlookers could be seen throwing rocks at officers.
"I understand it was a very volatile scene down there," Wilking said. "There may have been other officers injured in clearing the area."
Wilking said other people may have been injured — as well as detained — but he did not have any details of how many.
"I know other people have been detained, but I don't know their status," he said.
Wilking also said witnesses have been transported to the Public Safety Building to be interviewed about the altercation.
"It's still pretty early in the investigation, and the scene is still unfolding," Wilking said. "People are emotional right now. We want anybody that actually saw it to come forward, talk to us, so we can interview them so we're able to determine what took place."
He couldn't confirm whether there will be body camera footage of the initial shooting.
Wilking urged the public to stay away from the Rio Grande Street area.
"If people are thinking about coming to the downtown area right now, I would suggest that they avoid this area," he said. "We're trying to clear people out and make sure everybody's safe."
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