Salt Lake City police ramp up downtown patrols after 4 weekend shootings

One of the shootings left a 22-year-old man dead.

(Salt Lake City Police Department) A Salt Lake City police officer works the scene of a deadly shooting near 60 W. Market St. on Sunday, June 4, 2023. It marked one of four downtown shootings last weekend.

The Salt Lake City Police Department is stationing more officers near one downtown parking lot after four shootings unfolded near it last weekend — one of which left a 22-year-old man dead.

The small lot is located near 60 W. Market St., next to Market Street Grill and Oyster Bar. Three of the four weekend shootings unfolded near the the lot itself, Salt Lake City police Chief Mike Brown said during a Monday news conference. The fourth happened about a block away.

Though the shootings overlapped with Utah’s annual Pride festival weekend, evidence suggests none of the shootings was connected to any Pride events, police said.

Early Saturday, June 3

Salt Lake City police officers with the department’s central bike squad were patrolling the parking lot near Market Street at about 3:30 a.m. when they heard a volley of gunshots, police said.

Several of the rounds flew over the officers’ heads, and one hit a sign above the officers, a news release stated.

“That’s a big concern for us, because that’s pretty reckless disregard more or less for the safety of others,” detective Ben Nielsen, who works with the Police Department’s public information unit, said Monday afternoon.

Police found the suspected shooter and tried to arrest him, but he ran from officers near the Wells Fargo building, the release said. The 19-year-old man was eventually arrested and accused of running from officers, providing false identification, and public intoxication. He was booked into Salt Lake County jail.

Early Sunday, June 4

Just after 4 a.m. Sunday, emergency dispatchers received multiple calls about a shooting at the same Market Street parking lot.

The callers reported that people at the scene were performing CPR on a 22-year-old man who had been shot, and that the suspected shooter had left in a car, the release said.

A Salt Lake City police officer arrived within a minute of the first 911 call and found the man on the ground, according to the release.

When additional officers arrived, they provided life-saving efforts, as did paramedics from the Salt Lake City Fire Department and Gold Cross, but the man died at the scene, the release said. He was identified Monday afternoon as Halapaini Latu Moala.

More officers arrived to help control the crowd, but at least one person crossed the crime scene tape “after being told not to and to leave the area,” according to the release. That person was then arrested for what officers deemed was an attempt to interfere with the investigation, police said.

A fight also broke out at the scene, and officers arrested another person on suspicion of assault.

Nielsen said the homicide detectives investigating this case have run into “roadblocks” because some witnesses are not cooperating.

“It’s just a big concern,” he said. “There are people who know who the shooter is and they’re not coming forward for myriad reasons.”

Late Sunday, June 4

Around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, officers working in the area of 300 South and Main Street heard gunshots coming from the west.

Those officers soon saw a car leaving the parking lot near 60 W. Market St, Nielsen said. They stopped the car and found two spent shotgun shells and a shotgun inside the car. Some of the people inside the car were family members of the 22-year-old man who was fatally shot earlier on Sunday, Nielsen said.

Detectives are working with prosecutors to determine what the appropriate charges, if any, will be in that case, he said.

Early Monday, June 5

At about 12:30 a.m. on Monday, officers responded to a fourth downtown shooting near 300 South and Main Street.

They found a 27-year-old man who had been shot in the hand, Nielsen said. Police are looking for two people who reportedly left the scene in a car.

Further information about the Monday shooting was not immediately available.

A ‘deadly recipe’

Chief Mike Brown said last weekend’s gun violence seems to be isolated. “These were not random shootings, but we certainly understand the fear they instilled,” he said.

When asked why the four shootings were centered near the same downtown parking lot, Brown said, “I don’t know. I think everyone’s got a stake. It’s the Police Department. It’s the fire department. It’s the property owners. It’s the parking lot owners. It’s the event organizers. It’s all of us. It’s our community.”

Brown said the people involved in the shootings were “willing to pull out guns to resolve conflict.”

“Instead of walking away, they let a dangerous and deadly recipe of tempers, alcohol, drugs and guns take over,” he said Monday.

Brown emphasized that “what happened this weekend does not represent or define this city or downtown,” later adding that he is proud of Salt Lake City.

“This weekend, we saw so much unity as we celebrated Pride. Our city is resilient,” he said. “We will work together with our community to create a safer and more compassionate city for everyone.”

Any witnesses to the shootings, or anyone who may have more information, may call Salt Lake City police at 801-799-3000.