Suicide bid? Man shot at West Valley police station
West Valley City • A man shot Monday during a confrontation with officers inside the lobby of the West Valley City Police Department may have been attempting "suicide by cop."
By Monday afternoon, the suspect, 39-year-old James Ramsey Kammeyer, had been treated at a hospital for two gunshot wounds to his right arm and was booked at the Salt Lake County jail. He was booked on suspicion of two counts of attempted homicide, two counts of aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, possession of a weapon by a restricted person and making terroristic threats, said West Valley City police Sgt. Jason Hauer.
But whether his goal Monday morning was to die in a barrage of police gunfire remained unclear. Hauer said police were still trying to determine what prompted the registered sex offender to walk into the police department lobby about 8:25 a.m. Monday, pull a gun and point it at officers.
Hauer said Kammeyer had evoked his right to remain silent and was not cooperating with investigators. But Monday wasn't his first encounter with city police.
On Dec. 12, 2012, officers went out on a call involving Kammeyer, who said he was distraught because his wife was trying to take custody of their children, according to Hauer.
"He was threatening to cut his wrists," Hauer said, "and told our officers at that time that he wanted to die [in a] suicide by cop."
Hauer said police talked him out of killing himself, and he was taken to a mental hospital for treatment.
Monday morning, Kammeyer allegedly drove his motorcycle to the police station, 3600 S. Constitution Blvd., walked inside with his hands in his pockets, and approached a civilian clerk and uniformed officer at the front desk. The desk is separated from the lobby by protective glass.
The officer thought the suspect's behavior was suspicious and asked him to remove his hands from his pockets. Instead, Kammeyer reportedly turned his back on the officer and clerk, pulled out a handgun and pointed it at them.
Several officers, hearing that an armed man was in the lobby, immediately reacted. Multiple gunshots were fired by one officer, and Kammeyer was struck twice in the right arm.
Monday afternoon, WVCPD detectives were serving search warrants on Kammeyer's residence, as well as a vehicle. Hauer said investigators were trying to learn more about his possible motives.
Hauer said the lobby of the police department was still considered a crime scene for the rest of Monday, but may be open to the public again on Tuesday. He said that in the meantime, people who wish to make reports at the police station should call the department's dispatch center at 801-840-4000.
An unidentified man who answered the door at the West Jordan residence where Kammeyer had been living said he didn't want to comment.
Court records show that Kammeyer ended up on the sex offender registry in 1999 after pleading guilty to sex abuse of a child, a second-degree felony. He was charged with having sexual intercourse and oral sex with a girl under the age of 14, according to court documents.
The plea was part of a deal with prosecutors, who reduced the charge from a first-degree felony and also dismissed one count of first-degree felony sodomy on a child.
The case earned Kammeyer 120 days in jail, according to court records, as well as three years on probation. Among other conditions, the judge also ordered Kammeyer to remain employed and write a letter of apology to the parents of his victim.
In 2002, Kammeyer's probation was revoked and reinstated for an additional 36 months. At that time, a judge ordered him to complete sex offender treatment and prohibited him from using the Internet. It was not immediately clear from court records why Kammeyer's probation was revoked and reinstated.
Kammeyer successfully completed probation in January 2004, the Utah Department of Corrections confirmed.
Police presence at the scene of the shooting Monday was heavy and much of the area, including a nearby Utah Transit Authority TRAX station, was initially cordoned off. A TRAX train, unable to proceed, was emptied of passengers who were transported to the next stop on the line by bus until the station reopened at 9:10 a.m.
The gunfire terrified several passengers on board a Green Line train at the time of the incident.
Bonnie Barkheimer said she "thought I was hallucinating. We never saw who they were shooting at [but] there was a ton of bullets."
About a half-dozen bullet holes riddled the outside glass windows of the police department.
Leilani Wolfgramm, 15, said she was heading to school and waiting for the train to leave the station when she heard the shooting. "Everyone started freaking out," she said.
Amber Samuels said the exchange of gunfire "sounded like fireworks." She said one fellow female passenger jumped over a seat, while a male passenger threw himself to the floor.
She saw paramedics take a man, who she described as a large, older white male in handcuffs, on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. "It was horrible," she said.
Monday's shooting, per procedure, will be reviewed by the office of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, which still is reviewing a November 2012 fatal shooting in which Danielle Willard, 21, was killed by WVCPD narcotics detectives as part of a purported drug investigation.
In the wake of the Willard shooting, the D.A. and the U.S. Attorney's Office began investigating alleged improprieties and evidentiary problems with the WVCPD's since-disbanded drug unit. So far, the two agencies have dropped a combined total of nearly 100 cases.
Jim Dalyrmple II and Kimball Bennion contributed to this story.
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