West Valley City • A Granite School District police officer shot a driver Tuesday afternoon after the officer was thrown onto the hood of a car.
The officer was patrolling Hunter Ridge Park, 4383 S. 5710 West, in a neighborhood near Hunter High School when he saw a car full of teenagers and smelled marijuana, Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said.
Five teenagers were in a car next to Hunter Ridge Park, a small, quiet spot with two benches and a playground set.
As the officer neared the car, it “lurched” forward and the officer was thrown onto the hood, Horsley said.
The officer then shot the driver, who was taken to the hospital in very critical condition.
The car traveled about another 100 feet and crashed. Four other teens riding in the car “scattered,” Horsley said.
Police spread out across the neighborhood to find the four boys Tuesday afternoon, though it was unclear whether they were suspected of crimes. The four boys are described as Latinos between the ages of 16 and 18. One of the teens was described by a witness as heavy set, wearing a white shirt and blue and white shorts, Horsley said. A second teen was wearing blue jeans, a third was wearing a blue shirt and a fourth was wearing blue jeans and a hoodie with old English letters, Horsley added.
At about 7 p.m. Tuesday, Horsely said two of the teens in the car had been taken into custody for questioning.
Horsley said he was not sure whether they had been booked into a juvenile facility or whether they were free to go, and he said police are not saying how they were found and whether they were taken into custody on suspicion of a crime.
The Salt Lake City Police Department has taken the lead on the investigation, Horsley said, and Unified and West Valley City police are assisting.
The officer suffered lacerations, Horsley said, and his uniform ripped.
The officer was treated and released from the hospital by 4:45 p.m., according to Granite School District.
After the shooting, Carrie Peterson and her sons — ages 3 and 6 — were picking up rocks in the empty lot next to their house when three teens ran by and jumped the fence onto Hunter High School’s driver’s education range.
A fourth teenager walked by but changed direction when he saw her looking.
Her sons weren’t fazed — “They like the helicopters,” she recounted her boys saying of the aerial search over their neighborhood.
Her neighbor went to the park, a block and a half away, to get a police officer.
When he came back, he saw his dogs sniffing something in his front yard, he told a Salt Lake Tribune reporter.
“I think there’s a blood-stained shirt in my yard,” he told an officer.