By Marette McKnight
Officials are still investigating the motives for an 18-year-old”s shooting rampage through Trolley Square shopping mall in Salt Lake City Monday night.
Sulejmen Talovic, a Bosnian refugee and Salt Lake City resident, killed five individuals and wounded four others before he was hot and killed by police just before 7 p.m.
Talovic entered the west terrace entrance of the mall with a shotgun, a 38-calibur pistol and a back-pack full of ammunition, said Salt lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank in a news conference Tuesday.
“The suspect in this circumstance had only one thing on his mind and that was to kill a large number of people,” Burbank said.
Salt Lake City police received a phone call at approximately 6:44 p.m. and arrived at the scene within three minutes. They immediately established an emergency response team, and only six minutes after the original call had been made, the suspect was dead.
An off-duty Ogden police officer, identified on KSL as Ken Hammon, was eating dinner with his wife when he heard shots coming from within the mall. He followed the sounds and found Talovic. Hammon then engaged in an on-going gun battle where numerous rounds were fired before dispatch could arrive.
“The heroic act of this individual officer going in and engaging this suspect who was well armed and prepared to engage him without having the benefits of a uniform, extra equipment or magazines for his firearms is truly heroic,” Burbank said.
Investigators still do not know if shots from Hammon or police officers who arrived at the shootout killed Talovic.
“There is no question that his quick actions saved the lives of numerous other people,” Burbank said.
Talovic immediately shot two individuals upon arrival in the parking lot at the mall. Upon entering the west doors, he shot another victim. He then proceeded eastbound inside the mall, opening fire on an additional five people shopping in a gift shop. Moving throughout the mall he attempted to shoot multiple others and eventually shot another two individuals before Hammon could find and distract him, Burbank said.
Those killed were Jeffery Walker, 53; Vanessa Quinn, 29; Kirsten Hinkley, 16; Teresa Ellis, 29; and Brad Frantz, 25.
Those wounded are Carolyn Tuft, 44, who is listed in critical condition; Shawn Munns, 34, in serious condition at LDS Hospital. Stacy Hansen, 53, was in critical condition and Allen Jeffery Walker, 16, in serious condition at University Hospital, according to spokeswoman Chantelle Turner.
“This is as tough as it gets in any community,” said Mayor Rocky Anderson in the news conference. “Our hearts go out to everyone who has been impacted, and most especially to the families of the victims of this tragic, senseless crime.”
Witnesses say they saw the gunman, heard the shots and screaming and saw the wounded.
Sean VanWagenen, a server at Old Spaghetti Factory, recalled the terror of the events.
“As soon as we heard the gunshots, we ran out the back door of the restraunt,” VanWagenen said.
Many employees fled the scene; others were contained to the Hard Rock Caf?, most staying until after 11 p.m. in order to give the police a statement.
“You never expect that something like that is ever going to happen. It was just shocking,” VanWagenen said. “Everyone was running out of there. No one knew where to go or what to do.”
The shooting is a stark contrast to the low crime rates in Salt Lake that has seen an 8 percent decrease in overall crime, and 14-year overall low.
Brooke Naylor contributed to this report