Salt Lake City police arrest two men in smoke shop murder

Published March 19, 2012 8:02 pm
Crime • Police catch suspects during freeway traffic stop.
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Salt Lake City police have arrested two men in the fatal shooting Wednesday at a smoke shop.

Yelfris Sosa-Hurtado, 25, and Vladimir Suarez-Campos, 37, were arrested early Monday for the murder of Stephen Guadalupe Chavez, 26.

Chavez was killed the night of March 14 inside the family's business, C.J. Smoke Shop at 876 W. 800 South.

Sosa-Hurtado was identified by police as the person who shot Chavez, and Suarez-Campos was identified as the driver of the getaway vehicle. Both men were arrested on suspicion of aggravated murder.

Family members said events leading up to the shooting began at about 7:35 p.m., when Isabel Chavez, Stephen Chavez's father, told a man who was drinking in the parking lot outside his shop that he needed to leave. The man asked what they planned to do to make him leave, and Isabel Chavez told him he wasn't going to do anything. He told his son to call the police.

Stephen Chavez, his dad said, tried to protect him and told the man not to disrespect his father. But as Isabel Chavez tried to defuse the situation and walk away, he said, the suspect punched his son in the face, starting a physical altercation. When a neighbor called 911, the man fled. The Chavezes went back inside their shop.

About 20 minutes later, while they were still waiting for police to arrive, the man returned — this time armed with an assault rifle.

Isabel Chavez said his son was standing unarmed behind the cash register when the man placed the rifle barrel about two inches from Stephen Chavez's heart, shouted, "I'm going to kill you mother [expletive]," and pulled the trigger.

The alleged killer had left following the initial confrontation in a red passenger car, according to police. But he returned in a dark-colored car driven by someone else. As the shooter left, he fired additional rounds at bystanders, but no one was hit, police said.

On Monday at about 12:30 a.m., Sosa-Hurtado and Suarez-Campos were taken into custody without incident by Salt Lake City Police Department SWAT officers and The Safe Streets Task Force officers during a traffic stop at the 7200 South exit of Interstate 15.

"Those are highly trained, tactically sound officers," Salt Lake police detective Mike Hamideh said. "We used them on purpose because we did believe these people should be considered dangerous. They obviously showed a history of violence."

Hamideh said he did not know how investigators had identified the suspects.

Sosa-Hurtado, a resident of Salt Lake County, has no criminal record beyond a 2005 traffic violation, according to a search of Utah court records.

Suarez-Campos, of Homestead, Fla., was charged earlier this month in Ogden's 2nd District Court with first-degree felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute. He posted $25,000 bail and was scheduled to return to court on March 28 for a scheduling hearing.

— Reporter Aaron Falk contributed to this story.


Twitter: @sheena5427



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