Police: Known gang member arrested after fatal shooting in Salt Lake City

Alex Christopher Mendoza Jr. Photo Courtesy: Salt Lake County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 10, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A suspect has been arrested after a fatal shooting in Salt Lake City early Saturday, officials said.

“Last night, homicide detectives booked Alex Mendoza, 19, for the murder of Emilio Salazar, 28,” said a tweet from Salt Lake City Police Department Sunday morning.

“This was after nearly 24 hours of constant follow-up by detectives to take this violent criminal off the streets.”

According to a probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake City, Mendoza is facing charges of:

  • Murder, a first-degree felony
  • Three counts of felony discharge of firearm; shoot in direction of person, a first-degree felony

Police were first called to a home at 1172 W. California Ave. about 1:55 a.m. Saturday. When officers arrived, they found man with a gunshot wound to the back of the head, Salt Lake City Police Lt. Carlos Valencia told Gephardt Daily at the scene.

Salt Lake City police on the scene of an early morning shooting on West California Avenue, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. Investigators believe the incident may be gang-related. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

“Arriving officers located a male victim in the carport area, bleeding from the head, and attempted first aid,” the probable cause statement said. “The male was transported to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray in extremely critical condition. Victim was pronounced deceased approximately seven hours later.”

Detectives interviewed witnesses that were on scene and learned that the shooter was “Baby Alex” Mendoza Jr., the statement said. Three shell casings were recovered at the scene in an area consistent with witnesses’ statements. The firearm allegedly used in the homicide has not been located at this time.

Mendoza was located at his residence and taken into custody without incident. He was transported to the SLCPD Public Safety Building where he was read his Miranda rights. He declined to speak with detectives.

Salt Lake City Shooting
Salt Lake City police place evidence markers at the scene of an early morning shooting on West California Avenue, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021. Investigators believe the incident may be gang-related. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

“Alex Mendoza Jr. is well-known to law enforcement and has been documented as a Chiques gang member,” said the statement.

“He has been implicated in numerous shootings and weapons offenses, including homicides, and charged with violent felonies.”

Mendoza is being held without bail.

Neighbors say there was a party at the time of the shooting and several people were gathered in the driveway when the shots rang out. Several people fled the scene after the shooting, leaving in two cars, SLCPD Sgt. Keith Horrocks told Gephardt Daily.

“I think it’s important to note as well that last week we put out our crime reduction plan, and this is one of those cases that may very well fall into the category,” of targeted crimes committed by a small percentage of repeat offenders, Horrocks added.

“We may see this as being one of those first cases. We may be able to take it to the federal level if it qualifies.”

Gephardt Daily will have more information on this story as details becomes available.

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