A man is in custody after a West Valley City code-enforcement officer was shot and killed while on the job Thursday, and a house fire near where the woman’s body was found is being investigated as arson, West Valley City police said.
Jill Robinson, 52, was dead at the scene, Steve Buhler, a West Valley City councilman and mayor pro tem, announced late Thursday afternoon.
Robinson was performing a routine follow-up at a house at 4102 Wendy Ave., in West Valley City’s Alpine Meadows neighborhood, about 10:20 a.m. Thursday, according to Matt Elson, deputy chief of the West Valley City Police Department.
West Valley City police said 64-year-old Kevin Wayne Billings, who is believed to be the homeowner, was booked into jail for investigation of aggravated arson and aggravated murder, which are first-degree felonies, and for arson, which is a second-degree felony.
Billings allegedly shot Robinson and set fire to her city vehicle, Elson said. He would not specify whether the shooting or the fire happened first.
Code-enforcement officers are city employees, and unarmed, Elson said. They typically deal with such mundane issues as weed control and abandoned vehicles.
Buhler said that her co-workers told him that Robinson, who had worked for the city for 10 years, “had a great smile, she was very involved in her job and had creative ways of doing her job and interacting with the people of West Valley which she served. And she was a tremendous softball enthusiast.”
In a statement released on Twitter, West Valley City expressed shock and heartbreak at Robinson’s death, noting that she was “a trusted colleague, a loving aunt, a proud mother, and a doting grandmother.”
Sam Johnson, a spokesman for West Valley, said he did not know the nature of Robinson’s visit to the home. The motive for the shooting is still unknown, he said, and he hasn’t heard of previous threats or violence toward code-enforcement officers.
Another fire was set that destroyed the two-story house next door, at 4112 Wendy Ave., and some outbuildings, Elson said.
Two West Valley City police officers arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, Elson said. They drew their weapons and ordered the suspect to get on the ground. He complied and was taken into custody without incident, Elson said.
Because Robinson is a West Valley City employee, Elson said the case would be investigated by detectives from the Salt Lake City Police Department. Officials from the Unified Fire Authority will investigate the fire.
“We are kind of a large city, but we are a community city, a blue-collar city,” Buhler said. “This is a great, horrible surprise, nothing we would ever have expected.”
Buhler added that grief counselors were visiting city employees Thursday.
Salt Lake Tribune reporter Taylor Stevens contributed to this story