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Ballpark residents demand action after one man dead, two wounded in Salt Lake City shooting

Mayor says she’s close to finalizing a “comprehensive” public safety plan for the city.

One man is dead and another man and a woman were wounded in a late-night shooting in Salt Lake City.

Police were called to the Main Street Motel at 1518 S. Main St. early Tuesday — just after midnight — and found a man who had been shot twice in the arm. Officers located a second man who had been shot to death inside a nearby car on Kensington Avenue.

The first man was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

At about the same time, a woman arrived at St. Mark’s Hospital with a gunshot wound to her arm. She was reported in stable condition and her wound is not life-threatening.

According to police, the two men and the woman are believed to have been shot during an altercation on Kensington Avenue. The man who died was identified by police as 37-year-old Salesi Katoa. The man who was injured is 29 and the woman is 20, according to police.

Police have not released any information about a suspect or suspects.

The incident follows a spike in violent crimes and property crimes this year that has hit the Ballpark neighborhood — which includes the Main Street Motel — particularly hard. Salt Lake City’s District 5, which encompasses the Ballpark, Central Ninth, East Liberty Park and Liberty Wells neighborhoods, has seen a 59.6% increase in violent crime offenses compared to 2019. Citywide, violent crime is up by about 22%.

[RELATED: Here’s a look at Salt Lake City crime statistics in your neighborhood]

“We need to hear about what resources are going to be [dedicated to] our disproportionate increase in crime,” said Amy Hawkins, a member of the Ballpark Community Council.

In July 2019, the neighborhood sent a letter to then-Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Police Chief Mike Brown expressing alarm “over this pattern of violence” and asking for the city’s support in addressing crime after the Ballpark community saw four homicides in one year.

Current Mayor Erin Mendenhall, who was serving as a council member representing District 5 at the time, was among the letter’s signatures.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Mendenhall said she continues to prioritize community safety.

“While last night’s events appear to be the result of a dispute between known associates, not a random act of violence, I know that no matter what the crime is, having it happen in your neighborhood is very concerning,” the mayor said.

Mendenhall added that the city is working on stationing more patrol officers in streets throughout the city, given rising crime rates this year.

“We’re finalizing a comprehensive plan right now to do more with our partners in the state to tackle crime across the city,” Mendenhall said.

Her office did not respond to a follow-up question about the timeline for the public safety plan.

In a Facebook post, council member Darin Morano, who represents District 5, said he has reached out to Brown to discuss the recent shootings and “potential strategies for the Ballpark neighborhood.”

“There is no easy solution but we are looking into all options. Policing, code enforcement, and public safety are primarily [administrative] functions,” Morano wrote. “As a council member I am limited in my authority in these areas. But I have and will continue to advocate for our neighborhood.”

Hawkins with the community council said she was pleased to hear the mayor was working on a comprehensive public safety plan, add that she was “eager” to see it.

“Today was the first time I’ve heard of it,” she said.

“People are discussing it among themselves and how we can’t rely on law enforcement anymore,” she continued. “We don’t accept this as normal, even though it’s been happening for a while.”

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