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South Jordan officer’s wounds in basement shootout were ‘potentially fatal’

The officer remains hospitalized along with the suspect, who police shot multiple times.

A South Jordan police officer suffered a severed femoral artery and a shattered femur when he was wounded during a shootout with a 29-year-old man last week, court records show.

The shooting happened at about 8 p.m. Friday as a sergeant and two officers were following up on a stolen vehicle case at a home on Tarali Court, a residential cul-de-sac near Bingham High School.

Residents of the home allowed the group of officers to enter, police said. As they looked for the suspect — since identified as Malui Salesi Vehikite — in a basement bedroom, they saw him holding a gun and walking backward down a hallway. They could hear him say “don’t” or “no,” according to a probable cause statement.

The sergeant then heard gunshots and saw a nearby officer fall to the floor with an injury to his leg.

According to the probable cause statement, police body camera footage shows Vehikite exiting a basement room, pointing a gun at the first officer and firing. The officer returns fire. As Vehikite goes up the stairs, the footage “clearly captures” him pointing his gun at the second officer, who also shoots at him, court records state.

The sergeant said he then heard several more gunshots and found Vehikite on a stairway landing, records state. He had been shot several times. Vehikite was treated for his wounds at the scene, then taken to a hospital.

The sergeant placed a tourniquet on the leg of the wounded officer, who also was hospitalized. According to the probable cause statement, the officer’s injuries were “potentially fatal” without immediate treatment.

The names of the officers involved in the Friday shooting have not been released. It marked the 28th police shooting this year in Utah; the 29th police shooting occurred two days later in Orem.

Pending formal charges, Vehikite is under investigation for attempted aggravated homicide, aggravated assault, possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and felony discharge of a firearm. He had four felony warrants out for his arrest at the time of the shooting, police said.

Both Vehikite and the wounded officer remain hospitalized. Police continue to investigate.

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