Woman sought in downtown Salt Lake City gunfight probe still missing

Published March 31, 2014 8:55 pm
Crime • She may have information on dead fugitive's motives.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Salt Lake City police continued Monday to seek a woman they hope will shed light on why a traffic stop last week led to a gunfight that left a fugitive dead and two officers wounded.

Salt Lake City police Detective Robin Heiden said that the woman's Washington state rental car, a silver Hyundai Elantra, was located over the weekend parked near 600 South and 600 East.

However, 36-year-old Melissa Medina still had not been found as of Monday.

Investigators believe she was acquainted with Christopher Leo Knight, the 34-year-old California fugitive who wounded two SLCPD officers Friday before being killed by their return fire.

"[Medina] is not a suspect or a person of interest at this time. We mainly are just concerned with her welfare, but she also might know something about his motive [for shooting]," Heiden said.

Medina may have traveled to Utah with Knight last week, but she has not been heard from since.

Knight, from Lakeport, Calif., was wanted by California authorities on suspicion of drug possession.

The gun battle occurred about 2:15 a.m. Friday after the two city patrol officers stopped and approached a battered Jeep near 300 South and West Temple. Knight, the passenger, was evasive when questioned by police, who then ordered him out of the vehicle.

As he got out, however, Knight produced a handgun and fired. Officer Mo Tafisi, a veteran of nine years, was hit in the left arm. Officer Dan Tueller, with the department for 18 months, was struck in the left thigh.

Both officers returned fire, and Knight was dead at the scene.

Tafisi was released from the hospital on Friday to continue his recovery at home, but Tueller remained in the hospital Monday, recovering from surgery over the weekend. Heiden said Tueller was expected to remain hospitalized for at least another week.

Police declined to specify the nature of Knight's gunshot wounds, except to confirm they were fatal. Those details likely won't come out until the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office completes its review of the shooting, Heiden said.

The driver of the SUV, who was not hurt during the gun battle, was released Friday after being questioned by detectives.


Twitter: @remims



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