A 22-year-old man was arrested Sunday morning in connection with the shooting death of Utah football player Aaron Lowe.
Buk Mawut Buk was booked into the Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of aggravated murder, attempted murder and felony discharge of a firearm, according to a news release from the Salt Lake City Police Department. He is being held without bail.
He has not been formally charged with any crime in connection with Lowe’s death.
The shooting was not targeted specifically at Lowe, University of Utah students nor the athletic department, said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown at a news conference Sunday.
“And in spite of rumors on social media,” Brown said, “this was also not a targeted gang-related shooting.”
Lowe was shot and killed outside a home at a party in Sugar House on Sept. 26. An unidentified 20-year-old woman was also shot and remains in critical condition, the release said.
According to police, Lowe and the woman were both invited guests at the party. When uninvited guests including Buk were asked to leave, a fight reportedly broke out.
After he was told to leave the party, Buk approached someone in his group, said something to him in a low voice, and then retrieved a pistol from the other man’s bag, according to a probable cause document that led to the warrant for Buk’s arrest. Buk then left the property and crossed the street, allegedly firing two or three times at Lowe and the female victim from afar, according to witness reports. He then fired five or six more shots at close range while Lowe and the woman were on the ground, witnesses told police.
Lowe was pronounced dead across the street from the house party, police said.
The arrest of Lowe’s suspected killer is a relief but does not bring the family any joy, according to Chris Jackson, Lowe’s older brother.
“We are glad that justice will be served,” Jackson told The Salt Lake Tribune. “We don’t find happiness that the lives of two young men are destroyed, though. My brother is no longer here, that young man’s life is destroyed, but we are happy that justice will be served.”
Police located Buk in Draper early Sunday morning and took him in for questioning. Police say they executed search warrants in Layton and Draper and conducted more than two dozen interviews during the course of their investigation. According to arresting documents, Buk was on either probation or parole at the time of his arrest.
“In a time of need, we turned to our community. We asked people to come forward to share the information they had,” Brown said in a statement. “Because of those tips and the unrelenting pursuit of justice from our homicide detectives, we have arrested the person accused of murdering Aaron Lowe.”
Lowe was a sophomore cornerback on the Utah football team. Originally from Mesquite, Texas, Lowe was a close friend and high school teammate of late Utah running back Ty Jordan, who died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound last December. Lowe had changed his jersey number to No. 22 this season to honor Jordan.
“So many lives have been impacted from this senseless shooting,” Brown said in a statement.
University of Utah President Taylor Randall said in a statement Sunday that the murder has reverberated across campus. He said Utah has “an important role to play” in reducing violence on and around the school grounds.
“The murder of young Black men has become all too common in our society. At a gathering last week on campus I was asked what I was doing as president to better support our Black community and what the university could do to address this violence,” he wrote. “I believe the university has an important role to play and we must use our voices, talents, and resources to drive change. I will work with my cabinet, academic and student leaders, in partnership with the U.’s Black Advisory Council and community leaders, to further this work.”
Utah athletic director Mark Harlan expressed on Twitter his gratitude for efforts made to find and arrest the person suspected of killing Lowe.
“We continue to mourn the loss of Aaron and we miss him dearly,” Harlan said. “We also remain hopeful for the full recovery of the second victim in this shooting, who remains hospitalized. We will continue to support Aaron’s family and our Utah Athletics family through this time of grief, and we are so grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of support from the community and all who have reached out to honor the memory of Aaron Lowe.”
The Salt Lake City Police Department has been criticized for its delayed response time to numerous calls related to the party at which Lowe was shot. On Sunday, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall emphasized that the department is facing a personnel shortage. She said the SLCPD is down 55 paid positions and that there are 600 open positions statewide. She then pleaded for people to join the department.
“Policing is different today. I know it’s an incredible challenge that, personally, I don’t know. But I’ve watched our officers struggle through incredible times. I know we’re asking a lot,” she said. “But I know that there are women and men in this capital city and across the state of Utah who feel compelled to help their communities, who feel called to action when there is a need.”