SALT LAKE CITY — Two West Valley teens were charged Tuesday with murdering a rival gang member on the Bangerter Highway in an effort to gain street cred.
Emanuel Angel Moreno-Vallejo and Robert Theron Danhauer, both 16, are charged as adults with murder, a first-degree felony, as well as other felonies.
About 9:45 p.m. on Jan. 18, Irving Alexis Chuba, 15, was shot and killed while driving a minivan near 4100 S. Bangerter Highway. Two officers conducting an unrelated traffic stop nearby heard multiple gunshots followed by the sound of a vehicle crashing.
Three other teens who were in the minivan with Chuba told police that another vehicle began chasing them on the Bangerter Highway starting at 3100 South. Police say the minivan ran red lights in an attempt to get away.
The minivan was forced to slow down for traffic near 4100 South. That's when the pursuing vehicle pulled alongside it and Moreno-Vallejo fired several rounds, according to charging documents. The minivan continued on, hitting another car before coming to rest by colliding with a tree.
A Chihuahua that was on the lap of one of the passengers was also shot and killed, police say.
Acting on a tip, West Valley police tracked down Moreno-Vallejo. On his cellphone was a video from about 6:15 p.m. — just hours before the shooting — that shows Danhauer driving and Moreno-Vallejo in the passenger seat.
"In this video, Moreno-Vallejo pans around the vehicle to show a handgun by his leg and a large amount of marijuana in a bag," the charging documents say. "Moreno-Vallejo stated he got the gun to use as protection while he sells marijuana."
While police were interviewing him, Moreno-Vallejo admitted to confronting rival gang members "in order to build street credit" with his own gang, the charges state. He then admitted to firing several shots at a minivan he was chasing on Bangerter, according to the court documents.
Police later searched Danhauner's house and found a handgun and ammunition in his bedroom closet, the charges state. The gun was reported stolen out of Stansbury Park in 2017, court records state.
A witness also told police that after the shooting, Danhauer and Moreno-Vallejo drove past the crashed minivan and Moreno-Vallejo stated, "I shot that kid," charging documents state.Comment on this story
Bail for both teens was set Tuesday at $1 million and they were ordered to be transferred from juvenile detention to the Salt Lake County Jail.
In addition to the murder charges, the two 16-year-olds are also charged in 3rd District Court with obstructing justice, a first-degree felony; four counts of illegal discharge of a firearm, theft by receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm by a restricted person, second-degree felonies. If they are convicted, the district attorney's office has asked for enhanced penalties under gang statutes.