A 35-year-old man is dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound after leading police on a chase near Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Park, police said Wednesday evening.
Salt Lake City police Detective Robert Ungricht said officers stopped the man — identified as Michael Zahn, 35 — after receiving a trespass complaint from a local business. In the process, they found that the man had a felony warrant issued for his arrest for a parole violation, so they tried to take him into custody. The man fled on foot and ran into a building in the Pioneer Park area, near 331 S. Rio Grande St., where police found him dead a short time later.
Jeana Brinkerhoff, 43, was evacuated from her workplace at Blackwell Realty Group at 324 S. 400 West shortly after the commotion began.
“I was sitting in my office, and a guy and two cops went running past and as soon as they passed my window I heard, ‘Freeze, police!’ and then I heard three rapid gunshots,” she said. “There were so many cops so fast that I really didn’t feel scared at all. I knew I would be safe — that there was no way that guy was getting to me with that amount of police presence.”
Sgt. Brandon Shearer said later that an officer had fired his weapon at least once. That means the officer will be placed on paid administrative leave during a West Valley City Police Department investigation, per state policy.
Shearer said that is standard procedure, helping to maintain transparency and avoid the appearance that an officer is being investigated by his or her peers. He didn’t provide further details about what caused the officer in this instance to fire his gun.
Per an executive order issued in 2017 by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski, any body camera footage from the altercation will be released in 10 business days, Shearer said.
A heavy police presence remained in the Pioneer Park area throughout the evening, where 300 South to 400 South and 400 West to Rio Grande Street were closed as officers investigated.