Utah man charged after children find mother fatally shot in Tooele apartment

The man told police he “startled” his wife when he followed her into the bathroom and his gun accidentally went off, documents state.

A 36-year-old Tooele man has been charged with shooting and killing his wife, court records show.

Michael Leroy Patterson was charged Monday in 3rd District Court with murder/domestic violence and felony discharge of a firearm, both first-degree felonies; and two counts of committing domestic violence in the presence of a child, third-degree felonies.

The investigation began at about 7:47 p.m. on Aug. 17 when police were dispatched to an apartment in southeast Tooele for a woman who was reportedly not breathing.

Arriving officers found Porchia Patterson, 35, dead in a bathroom from an apparent gunshot to the head, arresting documents state.

Once the woman was identified, officers located her husband a few minutes away from the complex near a local industrial depot. Michael Patterson had called 911 while the officers were at the residence and told dispatchers he had shot his wife, the documents allege.

When he was arrested, Patterson told police that he had discarded his wife’s broken cellphone, a firearm, a magazine and a shell casing nearby. Investigators said in arresting documents that the items were discarded in a way that seemed like the man was concealing them.

In an interview with police, Patterson said that he and his wife had been using methamphetamine and “arguing about accusations of infidelity” over the past few days. Porchia Patterson was packing clothes to leave the residence and went to use the bathroom, so Michael Patterson took a handgun from his holster and followed her.

He told police he “startled” his wife when he entered the bathroom, and the handgun accidentally fired. One of the Pattersons’ children told police that Michael Patterson then came out of the bedroom with “an angry face,” before he grabbed his car keys and left the residence.

Porchia Patterson’s children then found their mother and went to their neighbors for help, who then called emergency services, the documents state.

Michael Patterson is being held without bail in the Tooele County jail.