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Utah boy shot dead by police was bipolar, autistic
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Magna • For being just 15 years old, Sean Morrison had a lot of problems.

His mother, Jayne Morrison, said her son had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and autism, and had been depressed recently. Last month, his father was arrested for allegedly sexually molesting a family member.

On March 13, according to a Unified Police Department report, Sean Morrison was walking along a canal road in Magna. Two boys about the same age approached. One swung a knife, the report said, and cut Sean Morrison's face.

Still, it's unknown what exactly precipitated Sean Morrison's violence Sunday, when he took a gun from his home and shot at UPD officers. Three officers fired back and killed him.

Jayne Morrison, speaking to reporters Monday on her driveway near 3800 S. 7200 West, said there was no argument with her son before the shooting — no signs of what he was planning.

"He was a very beautiful, wonderful, loving person," Jayne Morrison said.

Police haven't identified a motive yet, either. UPD Lt. Justin Hoyal said detectives executed a search warrant on the Morrison home and found firearms, body armor and ammunition locked away from the children. Jayne Morrison said police took her computer and even family photographs from the wall.

"There was nothing that came out of the search that came as a clear cut, 'Yeah, he was mad at this,' " Hoyal said.

Jayne Morrison on Monday tried remembering the good things about her son. Sean Morrison was the second of four children and helped his mother with the younger siblings.

He recently got excited about playing baseball. Last week, his mother bought him a baseball bat, glove and ball, and he had been practicing in the park. He was looking for a team to join this summer.

Sean Morrison also enjoyed playing his Xbox and was so good with computers he helped his mother operate it, she said. He had a sense of humor, Jayne Morrison said, and recently went to Smashburger wearing a suit because he thought it would be funny.

But the problems were taking their toll. Sean Morrison was schooled at home but much of his time was spent receiving counseling and medication, his mother said.

"He wasn't treated right," Jayne Morrison said of the counseling. "Some of the people who are supposed to be therapists were downright mean to him." She declined to elaborate or identify which agency was providing the care.

According to court records, Sean Morrison's father was charged Feb. 23 with 12 felonies, including counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, rape of a child and sodomy of a child.

Police allege Barry Morrison abused a relative — not his son — between 1999 and 2008. The abuse came to light after the alleged victim recently came forward. Barry Morrison, 47, is being held on $250,000 bail at the Salt Lake County jail. Jayne Morrison said she doesn't think her son was ever abused.

A television station reported on the arrest earlier this month. Sean Morrison's grandfather, Wayne Herring said Monday the coverage reflected poorly on the whole family, even though no one else was accused of wrongdoing.

"He loves his dad," said Herring. "And his dad wasn't perfect, but nobody's is."

Police have no suspects in the knife attack on Sean Morrison. Hoyal said the suspect descriptions are vague: two white boys in their early or mid teens, each 5 feet 4 inches tall and 90 pounds. Jayne Morrison said the knife cut both of her son's cheeks and his forehead but she didn't think the scarring would have been permanent.

On Sunday, Sean Morrison broke into a lock box in the family's home and removed a .45-caliber handgun. He donned a bullet-proof vest, a black trench coat and a ski mask. Hoyal said it appears the family had body armor for hobby purposes.

Jayne Morrison thinks her son wore the ski mask because he was self-conscious about the cuts to his face.

Before he left the house, the teen told his mother he was leaving because he did not want to "hurt everyone," police said. At some point after leaving home, Morrison also threatened a neighbor, police said.

Witnesses said the teen fired at an oncoming police car, which swerved to avoid the gunfire. He hid in the yard of a neighbor at 3791 S. Paine Road (7435 West).

As officers approached, Morrison left the yard and hid behind a vehicle on Paine Road. Witnesses heard police yell for him to put down his gun, but instead the boy opened fire. Police fired back.

Hoyal said Monday that Sean Morrison was shot at least four times, but he didn't know how many of those hit the armor. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition, and later died.

His family on Monday at times still spoke of the boy as though he was still alive. His mother said Sean Morrison is still with her.

Herring called his grandson "was a wonderful kid." Then he corrected his verb tense.

"He still is a lovable guy," Herring said.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle

Crime • Father recently charged with molesting family member.
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