Tim Hussin, Deseret Morning News
Investigators work outside an apartment complex where police shot and killed a man who lunged at an officer with a 30-inch sword.<BR>

SOUTH SALT LAKE — A 39-year-old man who investigators say lunged at a police officer with a sword, slicing the officer's jacket, was shot and killed by police Monday.

Officers responded to an apartment complex near 250 East and 3600 South about 10:50 a.m. on a call of a man throwing items off his third-floor balcony.

"A TV set, a Christmas tree, Christmas presents ... ," said South Salt Lake police detective Gary Keller. "There were reports the man was outside with a sword hitting it against the railing, being aggressive with the sword."

Police did not release the man's name Monday, but an apartment manager identified the man as Ross Sullivan.

Sullivan was "a soft-spoken, nice guy," said Stephen Kime, who manages the apartment complex where Sullivan had lived for more than a year. "As far as tenants go, he was one of the best. Sullivan was possibly upset about losing his job, Kime said.

When officers arrived, the man barricaded himself inside his apartment. A SWAT team surrounded the building and tried for 90 minutes to convince the man to come out, Keller said.

Sullivan asked on multiple occasions for police to let his girlfriend inside the apartment, said Kime, who stood about 25 feet away from the apartment during the hour-long standoff.

When officers finally convinced the man to step outside, they were already in position to attempt to arrest him.

An officer used a Taser on the man, but one of the probes didn't stick, Keller said. The suspect ran back inside his apartment. But rather than wait, officers made a split second decision to follow him inside. They kicked open the door only to see the man lunging at them with a double-edged sword with a 30-inch blade.

The fleece coat of one officer was sliced, but his skin was not cut.

"He was very, very lucky." Keller said.

The officer suffered a deep bruise on his arm, above his elbow, from the sword's blow, Keller said. A second officer immediately opened fire, striking the suspect at least twice, he said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Kime and tenant Annika Knapp both said they heard police fire at least five shots. Knapp said she believes the shooting was "excessive force." Kime, however, said he believes it was bad timing.

"I don't understand why the police went in when they did," he said. "Ross was by himself, poking holes in the sheetrock in the middle of the day. They could have waited.

"But once they were inside and he swung the sword, they did what they were supposed to do."

Both the officer who was injured and the one who fired the shots were placed on routine paid administrative leave.

Keller noted that investigators did not have any current history concerning the man.

Contributing: Aaron Falk


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