2 arrested after West Jordan teen found dead on Christmas Day

One suspect was put on probation weeks before the fatal Christmas Eve shooting.

(GoFundMe) This undated photo posted to a GoFundMe page by a relative shows Kenneth Gant, a 16-year-old West Jordan boy whom police said was found dead on Dec. 25, 2021. Two teens, ages 17 and 18, were arrested in connection with the fatal shooting.

A West Jordan teen is dead and two others are in jail after a shooting on Christmas Eve.

According to West Jordan police, the body of 16-year-old Kenneth Gant was found behind a storage container near the Gene Fullmer Recreation Center, located at 8015 S. 2200 West, on Dec. 25. He had been shot multiple times, police said.

On Monday, West Jordan investigators learned that two teens, ages 17 and 18, stole a car at gunpoint on Saturday in West Valley City, according to a probable cause statement. The two were spotted by police, and were eventually found hiding in a backyard and arrested.

The 18-year-old told police that the 17-year-old had killed someone Friday in West Jordan and gave an approximate address near the recreation center where Kenneth’s body was found. Surveillance video showed two people who appeared to be the teen suspects outside the recreation center, and police had received a report of gunshots in the area late Friday night.

On Monday, the 18-year-old admitted to investigators that he “contacted the victim through social media,” asking him to meet on Friday night. According to the probable cause statement, the 18-year-old alleged that Kenneth was a member of a rival gang and was trying to join the suspect’s gang. The 18-year-old told police he was upset because Kenneth did not admit to being a member of the rival gang.

According to the probable cause statement, the 18-year-old told police that he and the 17-year-old walked across the parking lot with Kenneth “under the guise of smoking marijuana with him.” When they stopped behind the storage container, the 17-year-old shot Kenneth twice and heard him “scream and cry.” The 18-year-old told police he then took the gun from the 17-year-old and shot Kenneth two more times.

A GoFundMe page set up to pay for Kenneth’s funeral expenses described Kenneth as a “smart, funny, sweet young man” who loved everyone, “especially his mom, sister Victoria and his brother Victor.” It features a photo of Kenneth wearing a red beanie, holding a puppy in a pet store.

The 18-year-old told police he stole the gun from a vehicle before the fatal shooting, and that he had run from a juvenile justice system program where he was supposed to be residing. The 18-year-old was put on probation just a few weeks earlier on Dec. 7, after he was convicted of theft by receiving stolen property, a second-degree felony.

The 18-year-old is being held without bail in the Salt Lake County jail; the 17-year-old is being held with bail in juvenile detention. They are under investigation for criminal homicide, a first-degree felony, and other charges including felony discharge of a firearm and obstruction of justice.

— Tribune reporter Jordan Miller contributed to this report.