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6 minutes of horror

Shooter aimed to kill as many as he could

Published: Monday, July 6 2015 5:17 p.m. MDT

LDS ward members and friends of Jeffery Walker attend a prayer service Tuesday. Walker's son AJ was injured in the shootings. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News) LDS ward members and friends of Jeffery Walker attend a prayer service Tuesday. Walker's son AJ was injured in the shootings. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret Morning News)
Deseret Morning News graphic

   Trolley Square shooting rampage

In just six minutes, 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic left a tragic path of destruction that forever changed the lives of dozens of people.
"His intent was to shoot as many people as he possibly could," said Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank.
Police released details Tuesday on Talovic's shooting rampage that left five people dead before off-duty Ogden police officer Ken Hammond and four Salt Lake City police officers killed him in "a shootout," Burbank said.
Four other shooting victims are hospitalized.
Talovic was armed with a shotgun, a .38-caliber handgun and "a backpack full of ammunition," Burbank said. Around the man's waist was a bandolier of shotgun shells.
"He had a pump shotgun," said one witness, DeEtta Barta. "He was shooting, and he shot about four shots."
Sulejman Talovic, 18, is shown in a January 2007 family photo supplied by the family. Talovic allegedly shot and killed five people Monday night and wounded four more before being shot and killed by police. (Family photo via Associated Press) Sulejman Talovic, 18, is shown in a January 2007 family photo supplied by the family. Talovic allegedly shot and killed five people Monday night and wounded four more before being shot and killed by police. (Family photo via Associated Press)
Barta and her friend Ron Mason were celebrating her birthday at the Desert Edge Brewery when they looked out the window and saw Talovic emerging from the parking terrace, firing away.
"It didn't seem real to me," Mason said.
Police said Tuesday they did not know where Talovic got his weapons. Investigators believe the shootings were random.
Some of the biggest questions remained unanswered Tuesday — including why Talovic picked Trolley Square and what prompted the tragedy.
"This is something really unheard of in our community," Burbank said.
Investigators believe that Talovic pulled into the west parking terrace of Trolley Square about 6:44 p.m. on Monday. He got out of his car and shot 52-year-old Jeffery Walker and his son, 16-year-old AJ Walker.
A group of friends who gathered across the street from Trolley Square holds a small candlelight vigil on Tuesday in the wake of Monday night's tragedy. (Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News) A group of friends who gathered across the street from Trolley Square holds a small candlelight vigil on Tuesday in the wake of Monday night's tragedy. (Mike Terry, Deseret Morning News)
Jeffery Walker was killed. AJ was taken to a local hospital and was listed in critical but stable condition.
Barta, who is an intensive-care nurse, said she rushed to help the young man, who had been shot in the head.
"He had a bullet lodged superficially in his temple, and his ear was bleeding," she said.
On his way into the mall, Shawn Munns' family said Talovic shot Munns, 34, in the courtyard near Green Street Social Club. Munns was heading to a car when he heard a noise and turned a little.
Munns' sister-in-law, Jodie Sparrow, said the man heard Talovic say, "Die, mother-(expletive)!" as Munns was shot twice. Munns then stumbled into the Hard Rock Cafe for help.
He was reported to be in serious condition at a hospital Tuesday but alert and talking to his family.
Salt Lake City police say Talovic entered Trolley Square's west entrance, where he shot and killed 29-year-old Vanessa Quinn in the hallway. People inside the Bath and Body Works store watched helplessly as the woman was gunned down.
"We saw him go in the back door of the mall and into the store across from Bath and Body Works, and he shot a girl right in front of the door," Madilee Puttuck said, her voice shaking with fear. She and others locked themselves in a bathroom to hide from the gunman.
Emergency dispatchers were flooded with 911 calls. So many calls were made to the Salt Lake City Police Department's 911 dispatch center that the city's overflow system kicked in, and calls started being rerouted to the Valley Emergency Communications Center. The center received approximately 50 calls from Trolley Square in a 10-to 15-minute period.
Police said Talovic next moved to Cabin Fever, a novelty and card shop, where he shot four people inside, killing three. Carolyn Tuft, 44, and her 15-year-old daughter, Kirsten Hinckley, were shot. Hinckley was killed, as were Brad Frantz, 24, and Teresa Ellis, 29.
Tuft was taken to the hospital and was listed in critical but stable condition Tuesday.
Police said Talovic also shot Stacy Hanson, 53. Hanson was reported to be in critical condition at a hospital Tuesday.

A 'hero' responds
Witnesses told the Deseret Morning News that Talovic appeared to be "hunting" people. Some described a calm expression on his face as he aimed his shotgun and fired.
Off-duty Ogden police officer Hammond, who was eating dinner with his pregnant wife at the Rodizio Grill, heard the gunfire. Walking into the mall, he spotted people on the ground — and saw Talovic.
"I noticed a man with a shotgun walking out of the business where the people were seriously injured," he said Tuesday. "He took a shot at me."
Hammond said he backed up for safety and hit the ground, losing sight of Talovic for a brief time.
Salt Lake City police arrived at Trolley Square at 6:47 p.m., and four officers formed an "Emergency Action Team," a police tactic in which officers immediately enter a situation to prevent more people from being shot. It's a change from the days before the Columbine High School tragedy, when officers would wait for more backup and set up a game plan.
The officers "rushed right in" without worry for their own safety, the chief said. Hammond was involved in the shootout with Talovic, and Salt Lake City police arrived and helped corner the gunman.
"There was a shootout," said Barrett Dodds, an antique-shop owner in the mall.
At approximately 6:50 p.m., officers reported the gunman was down.
"There was blood all over that place," Dodds said.
Burbank praised the law enforcement agencies involved, which included most officers in the Salt Lake Valley plus the off-duty Ogden officer.
"There's no question (Hammond's) quick actions saved the lives of numerous people," Burbank said.
Burbank called Hammond's acts "heroic," but also added that he "cannot be too complimentary" of his own officers who risked their own lives. The four Salt Lake officers and Hammond are on routine paid administrative leave pending the outcome of inquiries into the shooting.

'A good boy'
Investigators were trying to learn more about the man responsible for causing the tragedy. Burbank said Talovic's car was searched, but the chief would not discuss whether evidence was found. He also did not say if any suicide notes were left or messages were posted on the Internet that might provide insight.
On Tuesday morning, police detectives were in South Salt Lake, questioning employees at the Aramark Uniform Supply business where Talovic had worked since December. Aramark managers and a company spokeswoman declined to comment. One employee described Talovic as "quiet."
Police said Talovic had a juvenile record of only four minor offenses. None of his arrests were for violent crimes.
The man had lived at a house with his mother and three younger sisters near the Utah State Fairpark. Neither his mother nor his sisters would answer the door or respond to phone calls Tuesday, although a person inside would pick up the phone and then quickly hang up.
Ajka Omerovic, who said she was Talovic's aunt, visited the home Tuesday afternoon. She told the Deseret Morning News that Talovic had been "a good boy." She said the family are Muslims from Bosnia who had lived in the vicinity of Sarajevo.
Omerovic said she believed the young man's mother had been living here for about four years. Omerovic was extremely distraught and at first said she did not speak English. But she did try to conduct an interview. She and a younger man went inside the home and left with a large cage with two birds in it.
"We want to know what happened, just like you guys," Omerovic told reporters. "We have no idea.... We know him as a good boy."
Asked what he was like, she replied, "He liked everybody, so I don't know what happened."
His mother is in "a difficult situation — she is very sick," she added.

A loner
Many neighbors said that while the mother and young girls were always pleasant and the girls often played with other neighborhood children, Talovic kept to himself.
"I don't even know that there is a man living there," said neighbor Yasmin Castellanos.
Castellanos said police and an ambulance arrived at the house about 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Neighbor Riana Yellowbear said the few times she'd see Talovic walk by, he would never say anything. Another neighbor, John Buddensick, said he also rarely ever saw Talovic.
"I never would have expected anything like that at all," he said. "He was really quiet. He'd just walk in and out."
One of Talovic's former teachers remembered him as a loner who "didn't have any friends in class."
"I just remember a quiet kid, " said Danny Schwam, Talovic's former ninth-grade teacher at the Highland High-Garfield alternative program. "He didn't cause any trouble. He was kind of unassuming. He never acted out."
Schwam said Talovic only came to school about half the time. When Schwam called his mother to discuss the repeated absences, he said, "I usually got, 'He's sick."'
"It's always these kinds of kids," Schwam said. "It's the kids who are distraught, who have nothing to live for...who cause the most severe damage. They don't know what else to do. In their mind, they're at the end of their rope."

The aftermath
Many people caught up in Monday night's shooting rampage are still trying to process what happened to them.
"I can't sleep, I just can't get it out of my head," said shopper Melanie Kenyon. "I try to sleep, but it's still there."
Kenyon said she was in Pottery Barn when she heard the shots and was quickly ushered into a back room inside the Restoration Hardware store.
"There was about 25 of us. We were pacing back and forth, talking on cell phones," she recalled. "We really didn't know what was going on."
After about 2 1/2 hours, police officers came and ushered Kenyon and others to safety.
"We all had to walk out with our hands in the air," she said.
Mall spokeswoman Alicia Bremer said in a statement that the mall would reopen today at 8 a.m.
"It is at the discretion of each mall retailer and restaurant as to when they resume business. We advise retail customers and restaurant patrons to call ahead," she said.
Some companies were offering grief counseling to their employees who were in the mall when the shooting rampage occurred. The Wells Fargo Bank branch at Trolley Square remains closed, but grief counselors met with employees to offer counseling on Tuesday.
A memorial account for the shooting victims has been established at Wells Fargo Bank.


Contributing: Joe Bauman, Elaine Jarvik.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com; bwinslow@desnews.com

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