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Gunman Kills 5 At Salt Lake City Mall

A witness says the man died under police fire; authorities just confirm an officer was involved.

Shooter Not Identified

February 13, 2007|Nicholas Riccardi | Times Staff Writer

A gunman sprayed a popular Salt Lake City shopping mall Monday evening, killing five people before he was killed, authorities said.

The man, whose identity was not released Monday night, opened fire about 6:45 p.m. MST at Trolley Square Mall, a two-story complex in a former trolley barn that takes up a full block in downtown Salt Lake City.

He was wearing a trenchcoat and carrying a shotgun or a rifle, witnesses said. Shoppers ran for cover, ducking into restrooms, closets and in one case a meat freezer.

One witness told the Deseret Morning News, a Salt Lake City newspaper, that an off-duty police officer from the city of Ogden killed the gunman. The Ogden Police Department confirmed only that one of its officers had been involved.

Other than confirming six deaths, police released few details Monday night.

They said it took a long time to secure the sprawling shopping complex of winding passageways that house more than 80 shops and restaurants.

Two hours after the shooting, the mall was still filled with scared customers waiting to be escorted out. Police said they were getting calls for help as late as 9 p.m.

Local hospitals reported that at least four people were brought in, three in critical condition.

DeEtta Barta was enjoying her 52nd birthday at a restaurant on the mall's second floor when she saw the gunman walk in, hold his gun in the air, pump it and fire. "He went into the mall with just murder on his face," she said.

The diners fled into the restaurant's kitchen, and the manager ushered them out of the mall through a side exit. Outside, Barta and her companion, both nurses, found a teenage boy lying on the ground with a head wound.

They bundled him up and carried him to an ambulance as the youth said: "He shot my dad. He shot my dad."

Antique store owner Barrett Dodds, 29, said he saw the shooter, wearing a trenchcoat, backing into a children's clothing store and exchanging gunfire with a police officer.

"I saw the cops go in the store. I saw the shooter go down," said Dodds, who watched from the second floor.

A police spokeswoman told the Salt Lake Tribune the shooting appeared to be random.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson released a statement late Monday, saying: "An entire community is, of course, traumatized when there are such senseless acts of violence."

He continued: "My heart goes out to the victims, their loved ones and those who were in the area and obviously so terrified.... "I don't know what could have motivated anybody to do this."

Bath & Body Works employee Marie Smith told the Tribune the gunman had run in front of her store carrying what appeared to be a rifle. She ducked behind the counter, she said, and saw him shoot a woman who appeared to be in her mid-20s.

"She screamed as she was coming around the corner and he shot her," Smith said. "I didn't hear him say anything to her at all."

Witness Clifton Black, 26, told the Tribune that he was in a clothing store when shots rang out. A clerk locked the door and shut off the lights, and no one left until police entered the mall.

On his way out of the building, Black said he saw a "heap of bodies" in one of the stores.

*

nicholas.riccardi@latimes.com

This report includes information from the Associated Press.

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