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Deputies in Utah recovering after being shot in face; suspect dead

South Salt Lake jail shooting
Posted at 6:17 PM, Apr 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-10 20:17:58-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Two deputies were shot outside the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office and Unified Police Department headquarters in South Salt Lake Saturday morning.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m., the two deputies were patrolling the complex at 3415 S. 900 West, which also includes the Salt Lake County Metro Jail.

They encountered a man near the north parking lot, and as they approached him, he pulled out a handgun and shot at them.

Investigators are working to determine exactly what happened, but Sheriff Rosie Rivera said everything happened very fast and at least one of the deputies fired back, killing the suspect.

Both deputies were shot in the face and taken to the hospital.

One deputy, who was hit in the cheek, is in stable condition and is expected to be released soon, Rivera said Saturday afternoon.

The other was shot in the eye and is in critical but stable condition. He will remain in the hospital for surgery.

"They have a long time to heal... it's a struggle," Rivera said. "I ask the community to join me in keeping these deputies in our thoughts and prayers."

Their names have not been released as the sheriff's office works to notify their families.

There were no others involved in the shooting, but other deputies responded quickly to render medical aid.

Police have not yet been able to identify the suspect, but they believe he is in his 30s. Rivera added that while investigators haven't determined a motive for the shooting nor what he was doing in the area, they believe he may have been homeless based on items they found in the area.

"These types of incidents are really devastating for the department," she said. "The environment for law enforcement right now is extremely dangerous, and we know that."

A "Peer Support Team" is helping members of the sheriff's office cope with the incident.

Rivera said the jail will remain on lockdown until the on-scene portion of the investigation is complete.

Officials ask anyone with information on the shooting to contact the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Several of Utah's elected officials and other local leaders have reacted to the news:

“All of us at the Utah Attorney General’s office are praying for the two officers of the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office, who were shot in the line of duty this morning. These officers and their sister and brother officers go to work every day protecting our communities, including individuals in our prisons and jails. They do this having no idea what threats of harm will come each day. They serve with professionalism and dedication. They and their families accept these risks willingly.”
-Utah Attorney General’s office
“Please join our prayers for these brave officers and their families. Their sacrifices are unmeasurable and unimaginable.”
-Attorney General Sean Reyes

Spencer Joseph, Jeff Tavss, and Spencer Burt at KSTU first reported this story.