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Cop kills man who allegedly broke into 2 Utah homes, stabbed woman

First Published      Last Updated Sep 23 2015 10:49 pm

Man had long criminal history; attack victim sustained injuries not considered life-threatening.

A harrowing, violent night for a southcentral Salt Lake City neighborhood ended with police fatally shooting a wanted parolee after he allegedly broke into two homes, threatening a toddler's safety in one and stabbing a woman in another.

Public safety dispatchers say police approached the suspect about 12:09 a.m. Wednesday at 850 S. Roberta St. (250 East), a duplex where a 28-year-old female resident had been stabbed in the abdomen. Police found the assailant inside the unit, a confrontation ensued and an officer shot and killed the man.

No officer injuries were reported.

Police identified the decedent as Robert Richard Berger, a 48-year-old Salt Lake City man with a long criminal history ranging from aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping convictions to burglary, vehicle theft, drug and numerous fleeing police violations.

The deadly denouement came just minutes after Berger allegedly had attempted to break into a 2-year-old girl's bedroom through the window of an apartment at 838 S. Roberta St.; he was chased off by the child's parents, who called 911.

William Piper, the parents' upstairs neighbor, said the girl's father tried to use a hammer to fight the suspect through the kitchen window.

"It happened so quick. I don't know where [the intruder] came from," Piper said. "I guess by the time [my neighbor] got him out, I guess he ran [to the duplex] and just started stabbing the girl."

The woman's screaming had awakened Piper. As police were responding to the parents' call, dispatchers received the call about the woman being assaulted at the nearby duplex.

"It was kind of scary. … It just kept getting louder — her yelling, as she's getting stabbed," Piper said.

Piper came outside to see his downstairs neighbor coming outside, which is when they saw officers responding to the scene, and "the lady was still screaming," Piper said.

An officer shot Berger at the women's duplex, Piper added.

The woman who was stabbed was taken to the hospital in serious condition, but her injuries were not considered life-threatening, SLCPD Detective Richard Chipping said.

Sandy Patterson, the neighbor of the woman who was stabbed, told The Tribune that the victim and her younger sister had moved into the duplex about a week ago.

Patterson said she fell asleep last night while watching television.

She said she awoke to the sound of "pounding on her door and screaming for help."

Patterson said the younger sister told her that someone was stabbing her older sister.

Patterson said she tried to call 911 but was unable to get through.

Minutes later, she said, she heard a single gunshot.

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