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15-year-old boy charged with murder after allegedly shooting man in Kearns

Police say the teen fired at a truck after exchanging words with the driver, resulting in the death of Fernando Amaya-Higareda, 23.

The Salt Lake Tribune

A 15-year-old boy was charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court with first-degree murder for his alleged involvement in a fatal July 6 shooting in Kearns, according to court filings.

The Salt Lake Tribune has chosen not to identify the teenager because of his status as a minor.

On July 6, Fernando Amaya-Higareda, 23, pulled over in a truck near 5600 South and 5300 West around 8:20 p.m. Two boys, ages 15 and 16, were pushing a bicycle down the sidewalk and started a verbal exchange with Amaya-Higareda, according to court documents. The filings state that a witness heard the phrases, “Wassup n----?”, “Wassup?” and “something about having or wanting any ‘beef,’” during the exchange.

One of the boys kicked the truck, and Amaya-Higareda started to drive away when the “shorter” teen pulled a firearm out of his backpack and allegedly fired approximately four shots at the truck, according to the documents. The boys then ran north on Impressions Drive while the truck rolled south, eventually coming to a stop at a park.

When police arrived at the scene, officers found Amaya-Higareda, who’d been shot in the head. They felt a slight pulse in his neck but were unable to revive him. The truck’s rear window had been shot out and several bullet holes were found in the truck’s bed on the driver’s side, the charges state.

The 15-year-old boy was charged with murder, a first-degree felony; obstructing justice, a second-degree felony; three counts of discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony; and being a minor in possession of a handgun and possession of drug paraphernalia, both class B misdemeanors.

Police used doorbell camera footage and reports from neighbors to track the boys down after the shooting. The 15-year-old attempted to jump a fence but was stopped by officers, who found ammunition and drug paraphernalia inside his backpack, according to court filings. Unified Police say officers later recovered a gun that had been hidden under the bumper of a nearby car.

During his interview with detectives, the 15-year-old said, “I guess so,” when asked if he shot “the man in the white truck.” The teen then denied any involvement in the shooting.

The 16-year-old who was also walking down the street had not been charged in connection with the shooting as of Thursday.

Two months prior to the July 6 shooting, the 15-year old was charged with aggravated assault after he was accused of choking a woman and punching her in the face. In October 2020, the boy allegedly dropped a handgun that had been reported stolen in Morgan County while trying to escape police. In connection with that incident, he was later charged with several crimes, including failing to stop for police, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

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