Courthouse gun violence

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 26, 2014 12:12 p.m.

    @Crisco B: "And why does Mr. Warren insist that the defendant was unarmed? I have repeatedly read that he was wielding a pen"

    A pen is an "arm" ? In that case, we'll have to fire all the security people for allowing so many people "bearing arms" into the courtroom. Shoes, boots and belts may also become problematic.

    And I wasn't advocating standing idly by and letting the two "duke it out." There were multiple security personnel in the courtroom, some of them presumably fairly strong people and with Tasers, so there may have been better options.

    None of us can say we "know" what was the right approach, but as I've stated, this needs to be reviewed by a civilian board (not court personnel or law enforcement).

  • Wonder Provo, UT
    April 26, 2014 11:10 a.m.

    Law enforcement officers cannot (should not) shoot to wound. It's a good way to get themselves or others killed.

  • Crisco B Salt Lake City, UT
    April 26, 2014 12:20 a.m.

    We need to stop constantly thinking the government is corrupt and that the US Marshals shoot for pleasure. I mean, really? Do we honestly believe that law enforcement is out to get us and shoot everyone? This is not Animal Farm.

    The whole thought of just letting the gang members duke it out is absurd. As Vladhagen says, this is not a gladiator pit. Some of the commentors on here make me wonder if they have even shot a gun before. Or been rushed by a 240 pound gang member.

    US Marshals must protect not just the witness, but the judge, the courtroom, themselves...When the defendant has the judge around the neck, it is too late to restrain him. Some on here seem to be oblivious (massively) to what law enforcement goes through each day. We are not on Mayberry Street no more Barney.

    And why does Mr. Warren insist that the defendant was unarmed? I have repeatedly read that he was wielding a pen (which is a great thing to have jabbed in your eye I am sure). Those who know few facts see corruption at every turn.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 25, 2014 8:55 p.m.

    Mike Richards wrote: "When deadly force is called for, they are trained to shoot to kill."

    Maybe deadly force was not called for.

    Two strong, unarmed men scuffled. One was not hurt at all; the other was shot to death. Just because an angry man rushes the witness stand does not make deadly force necessary. And just because a defendant has been accused of a serious crime does not mean he deserves to be shot to death. Doesn't anyone use Tasers anymore?

    In countless trials across the country, family members of murder or rape victims have attempted to attack defendants, and they weren't seeking autographs. Thankfully, officers in those cases didn't automatically decide that the angry attacker deserved to be shot five times.

    A civilian review board should take a look at this.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 25, 2014 6:44 p.m.

    Just what was the defendant doing? Was he asking for an autograph? He was rushing the witness who was testifying about the defendant. The audio from that situation has been released. Any police officer would have been compelled to do what the Marshall did.

    No officer is told to "shoot to wound". When deadly force is called for, they are trained to shoot to kill. If the defendant had wounded or killed the witness, would those who tell us that think that excessive force be demanding why the defendant hadn't been stopped? Do they think that he would have obeyed a voice command to stop? If he was "obedient" he would have stayed in his seat.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 25, 2014 5:39 p.m.

    @Vladhagen, 2 bits

    Sorry, I'm not buying the necessity of shooting someone five times in this circumstance, and I do think who is being attacked should be part of the equation for a trained officer. If a little old lady is attacking a linebacker, I think deadly force may not be needed, especially if she is wielding only a pencil. And if two large, unarmed gang members are fighting, maybe deadly force isn't needed, particularly when the one being attacked isn't being hurt at all.

    Again, this incident needs to be reviewed. We should not automatically accept the official version.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 2:43 p.m.

    Steve C. Warren,
    Another fallacy people not familiar with real guns (not movie guns) have... is... that all it takes is one shot.

    In the movies one shot stops everything. One shot and the car blows up. One shot and it's over, and we put our popcorn down and we all go home happily ever after.

    In real life it's not like that.

    One shot rarely stops anything. And if your goal is to stop them... you keep firing until they stop.

    I doubt they were standing over him shooting him while he was stopped.

    They are taught to stop when he stops. But they know one shot rarely stops a crazed person. Crazy enough try to attack somebody in full knowledge that there are people with guns there who's job is to stop him.

    In an instant and in close range like that... They don't have the luxury of shooting once and waiting to see if it works.

  • Vladhagen Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2014 2:16 p.m.

    The suggestion that the witness was capable of defending himself is absurd. This is not a gladiator pit where we let witnesses defend themselves. In this case there was no such thing as excessive force. That entire shoot to wound thing, as has been repeatedly pointed out, is something for John Wayne or NYPD Blue. No cop shots to wound.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    April 25, 2014 1:53 p.m.

    Another excellent letter, Kim.

    We do need a serious evaluation of whether excessive force was used and whether officers need better training on when to use deadly force. We should not automatically accept the official version.

    Although the marshal likely will be cleared, the firing of five rounds seems a bit much, particularly when the witness being attacked, a former gang member, appeared to be perfectly capable of defending himself and was not hurt, and the attacker was unarmed. As one witness observed, "I thought, 'when is he going to stop firing?' "

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 12:17 p.m.

    one old man,
    Yah... I'm pretty sure they checked his gang credentials... and only shot because he was a gansta... and it's only OK because he was a gansta...

    We would probably be upset if it was a pencil necked accountant who went after the witness and got shot...

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    April 25, 2014 11:58 a.m.

    With a pen or a pencil the assailant could have gouged out the witnesses eye. He needed to be stopped. The bailiff did the right thing.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    April 25, 2014 11:51 a.m.

    This letter is utterly ridiculous. The writer needs an injection of reality. Shoot to wound?

    Yeah, right.

    In combat you aim for the largest body mass. Easier target. Knocks the person off their feet.

    However, in this case, I do question the use of deadly force if the only weapon was pen or pencil. But because the gangsta who was shot was a gangsta, it's apparently okay.

    (By the way, I was once in Federal law enforcement. My training included a lot of work to learn to recognize when deadly force may be necessary and when it is not.)

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    RE: The DesNews editor's decision to label this "GUN Violence"...

    From my understanding of the incident.. the "violence" was started by the guy WITHOUT a gun. So how does the whole incident become "GUN violence"...?

    IMO the gun ENDED the violence... it didn't START it.

    Referring to the whole incident as "GUN violence"... just because a gun ended it... seems like the usual "blame the gun" spin.


    I think there was violence with or without the gun...

    So don't call what happened in the court room "gun violence". That's a skewed way of looking at the whole incident.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 25, 2014 10:29 a.m.

    Shoot a guy on the run and just winging him enough to disarm him... happens in the movies.

    Shooting the guy peaking out behind his hostage... happens in the movies.

    Most people aim at the center of what they need to hit.... and hope they hit something. Especially if what you need to hit is moving quickly (moving target hard to hit) and you have to stop them quickly, and absolutely stop them (not just slow them down). You don't aim to wing them.

    This second guessing people who had to make an instantaneous decision.. a decision people like you and me will probably never have to make in reality... while we just sitting in our comfy chair judging them, and pretending WE would do better... is getting ridiculous IMO.

    They did what they did. They did what they were trained to do.

    Maybe they could have shot the weapon out of his hand as he leaps at the witness... I don't think I could do that...

    IMO... Their first priority is to protect the witness...

  • Lia Sandy, UT
    April 25, 2014 10:19 a.m.

    No time to determine what the weapon is. You've got a crazed felon attacking a witness.

    And what does the church (what church is it you refer to?) have to do with this?

  • Daniel L. Murray, UT
    April 25, 2014 9:30 a.m.

    Shoot to wound only exists in the movies. No such thing is taught in any pistol or rifle course. Center mass, or any available exposed body part on concealed targets is the standard. When shooting a pistol in action, your mostly lucky to hit where you intend any rate.

  • KDave Moab, UT
    April 25, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    He could have just shot the pen out of his hand, like in the movies.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    April 25, 2014 8:09 a.m.

    shoot to wound? you have GOT to be kidding!

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 25, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    Police shoot to kill.
    Gun are designed specifically for this purpose.
    I think we could come up with less lethal means of stopping people, sandbag, rubber bullets, etc.

    Most people believe that if a cop shoots you, you deserved it, end of story.

    This could have been handled differently, I mean he was armed with a pencil or pen, but pulling the trigger till the gun goes click, is probably the easiest way.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:54 a.m.


    Put yourself on that witness stand. How much courage would it take just to get you there and testify against a gang which kills people? Then he comes after you. I would be so grateful to that officer!

    Society, through law enforcement, absolutely needs to make it as safe as possible to testify against mafia style gangs.

    Or would you rather have the gangs enforcing their laws throughout society?

  • John Charity Spring Back Home in Davis County, UT
    April 25, 2014 7:39 a.m.

    Perhaps Kim would have preferred that this violent criminal had been handed a balloon and a lollipop.

    Attitudes such as this are what helped this violent career criminal terrorize the community for so long. People refused to hold him accountable for past actions, so the violence just escalated. Thank heavens that prosecutor Steve Nelson was willing to put himself in harm's way in order to hold this criminal responsible.

    As noted above, the idea that the Marshall should have aimed to wound is absurd. Nearly as absurd as the judge who refused to take proper security measures based on the criminal's promise to behave.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    April 25, 2014 5:48 a.m.

    Kim, on the flip side, what would you be saying if the witness had been seriously harmed or killed? Such a result would understandably make future witnesses more scared to come forward. Wouldn’t you be asking, “Why can’t a witness be safe while testifying in a courtroom?” In the hands of a violent criminal, a pen or pencil can seriously injure or even kill.

    Also, the concept of “shoot to wound” is bogus. These officers are trained to STOP THE THREAT -- which they did – and which may or may not result in a death. We should all be grateful that the marshal had the skill to stop the threat without harming anyone else in the courtroom. I am.