Salt Lake City police have “potential promising leads” in the killing of University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe, Police Chief Mike Brown announced early Monday after a briefing with investigators and university leaders.
A woman also was critically wounded in the early Sunday shooting. An investigator is speaking with her, police later said during a news conference.
“Our homicide investigation is moving forward,” Brown said in a statement on Twitter. “Because of the community tips we’ve received, there are now several potential promising leads.”
Police at the Monday news conference did not release further details on the latest leads. No arrests were announced and no suspects have been named.
Lowe and the unidentified woman were shot at a house party in Sugar House early Sunday, hours after the University of Utah football team defeated Washington State. Police said they received at least six calls reporting a loud party at the house between 10:38 p.m. and 12:02 a.m., but officers did not respond because of “several in-progress emergencies and other higher priority calls,” police spokesperson Brent Weisberg said Monday.
At 12:19 a.m. Sunday, police received a report of a fight at the house party with a weapon involved, which elevated the situation to an “in-progress emergency” and officers were dispatched, Weisberg said.
Officers arrived in the area at 12:25 a.m. and began to approach the house, police said. There was a report of shots fired at 12:28 a.m., and officers found both Lowe and the unidentified woman between 12:32 a.m. and 12:36 a.m.
When questioned about the apparent delayed police response, Weisberg said none of the initial noise complaints about the party where Lowe was shot mentioned a fight or a weapon.
“Noise complaints are something that we’ve always responded to; we prioritize those calls,” Weisberg said.
But the department’s No. 1 focus is “in-progress emergencies,” he said. He noted that the department had about 50 vacancies as of Sept. 13 and that the department typically receives several dozen noise complaints each weekend. Even when the department had patrols dedicated to noise complaints, there was “usually a backlog,” he said.
“And so our officers, when they are aware of a noise complaint, it is dispatched out, they are told about it, and as they can respond to those noise complaints, they do,” Weisberg said Monday. “But again, our No. 1 focus is on those in-progress emergencies.”
Lowe, of Mesquite, Texas, was pronounced dead across the street from the house party, police said. It’s unclear if he was shot there, or at the property in question. The wounded woman was taken to a hospital.
According to police, Lowe and the woman were both invited guests at the party. The fight reportedly broke out when uninvited guests were asked to leave.
The department is still asking witnesses to come forward. Investigators believe anywhere from 50 to 100 people attended the house party where the shooting unfolded and that many with critical information fled the scene.
“We still need the community’s help now,” Brown said in his statement. Anyone with information about the case may call 801-799-3000.
For those fearful of coming forward, police on Monday said that any instances of suspected witness tampering or intimidation would be forwarded to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office.
“We want to make sure that those fears are alleviated,” Weisberg said. “Our No. 1 priority right now is seeking justice in this case.”
As news of Lowe’s death spread Sunday, community members, teammates, fans and officials including Gov. Spencer Cox expressed their condolences.
The case remains under investigation.