SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Aug. 26, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A suspect has been arrested after a fatal shooting in the area of Smith’s Ballpark earlier this month.
A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake County said Siosiua Tonga Ositamani, 24, is facing a charge of murder; knowing and intentional, a first-degree felony.
On Aug. 12, at approximately 5:20 p.m., Salt Lake City Police Department received a call that a man had been shot in the middle of the street near 54 E. Harrison Ave., the statement said. The victim was subsequently identified as Luis Melendez, 49.
Responding officers attempted to revive the victim but were unsuccessful.
“A witness leaving work in the area stated he observed three men, one with a bicycle, on Harrison Avenue, appearing to be in an argument,” the statement said. “The witness stated that he saw the taller of the two suspects, hereafter referred as suspect #1, raise what appeared to be a handgun, point it at the victim’s head and fire. The witness stated that the victim then fell to the ground. Suspect #1 and his accomplice, hereafter referred as suspect #2, then left the area on foot.”
The witness provided descriptions of both the suspects.
A canvas for video surveillance was conducted and officers located video from a residence on Major Street which showed the first suspect get into the passenger side of a black Mitsubishi Eclipse after the incident, which was parked down the street about a half a block away from the crime scene.
“The owner of the vehicle, hereafter referred as the driver, stated that he gave suspect #1 a ride because he didn’t want ‘those kind of people’ in the neighborhood,” the statement said. “Suspect #1 asked him to pick up his friend, suspect #2, down the street. The driver picked up suspect #2 near 1300 S. West Temple Street. The driver then drove them to the Fastrac Convenience Store at 802 S. 900 West.”
Surveillance cameras caught both suspects entering the Fastrac convenience store.
A review of video from a business located on Harrison Avenue and Main Street shows the victim, and the suspects from a distance before, during and after the shooting.
“The victim falls to the ground and stays down after the gun is raised,” the statement said. “Suspect #1 gets down near the victim’s body and looks like he takes something from the victim. Suspect #1 is then seen running west on Harrison Avenue and south on Major Street. Suspect #2 is seen walking northbound through an alleyway.”
As the investigation progressed, an anonymous source stated that they believed the shooter to be a Siosiua, last name unknown and had also heard from several people that Siosiua was responsible for the shooting. Detectives were able to identify a man named Siosiua Ositamani, who matched the description provided by the witness. Photos of Ositamani were found and compared to video from the Fastrac and appeared to match.
On Monday, patrol officers were called to a business where Ositamani was thought to be. Officers located him inside, detained him and brought him to the SLCPD Public Safety Building to be interviewed by detectives.
Ositamani was read his Miranda rights and agreed to speak with detectives. He told detectives that he and a friend encountered the victim on Major Street and Harrison Avenue and that a verbal argument began between he and the victim. Ositamani said that he had a gun with him and that he got it out, fired the weapon one time at the victim and left the area.
The second suspect has not yet been identified.
Ositamani was transported to Salt Lake County Jail, where he is being held without bail.