Suspect allegedly stabbed man 5 times on TRAX train in downtown Salt Lake City

Paul James Tafoya. Photo Courtesy: Salt Lake County

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, April 27, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A suspect was arrested Sunday after allegedly stabbing another man five times on a TRAX train in downtown Salt Lake City.

A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake County said Paul James Tafoya, 41, is facing a charge of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony.

Tafoya and the 58-year-old male victim were on board a Utah Transit Authority TRAX train that departed the Ballpark station in Salt Lake City. The two were involved in a physical altercation that resulted in the victim being stabbed five times, the news release said.

“Responding officers located both Mr. Tafoya and the victim at the Courthouse TRAX station located at 450 S. Main St.,” the statement said “The victim was bleeding heavily from multiple lacerations and wounds and was transported to the University of Utah Hospital.”

The victim allegedly had a laceration near the right side of his mouth, a small puncture-type laceration to the top of his forehead, and puncture-type wounds to his left hand, left bicep at the elbow and left leg.

Tafoya was located and was in possession of two knives that were recovered by officers; one of the knives was reported to have what appeared blood on it, the statement said.

“While on scene Mr. Tafoya told officers he was not injured and had not stabbed anyone; he had red stains on his pants and shirt that were consistent with blood and did not have any significant injuries that appeared to be bleeding,” the statement said. “Mr. Tafoya told officers on scene he was uninjured.”

An interview was conducted with the victim at the University of Utah Hospital. The victim said that while on the train, Tafoya, who he did not know, immediately began to act aggressive towards him, “and appeared to be high or drunk,” the statement said. The victim reported that the man boarded the train and called him a racial slur. The victim told him not to call him that and a verbal argument continued with both men exchanging words until Tafoya allegedly displayed a knife and came at him with it, stabbing him. The victim said that he was in possession of a knife but that it was in his pocket and he never brandished it.

Tafoya was read his Miranda rights and during the subsequent conversation told a detective that he had acted in self-defense. He said that he had boarded the train and that he was in a fight over the phone with his girlfriend. He said that the victim told him “not to talk like he was, and the two exchanged words,” the statement said. Tafoya said that the victim came at him with a brown knife that he estimated to be a 6-inch blade.

“He said that he defended himself with a smaller silver knife but that he did not believe that he stabbed anyone, he also advised that he did not use his knife to stab the male and said that he actually took the male’s knife from him,” the statement said. “Mr. Tafoya said that the two of them were fighting and throwing punches.”

There were several witnesses on board the train who described seeing the fight occur. One witness said that the person in blue was the one punching the person in red. Tafoya was wearing a blue plaid shirt and blue jeans, the statement said, while the victim was wearing a red and white coat.

Another witness “said that the male with facial hair was on top of the clean-shaven male hitting him,” the statement said. “The witness said after the assault he saw the clean-shaven male run to the front of the car and said he looked frightened. He was bleeding heavily.” Tayofa has a mustache and small goatee with dark facial hair, the statement said, while the victim is clean-shaven.

Tafoya was transported to Salt Lake County Jail with his bail set at $10,000.


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