Suspect arrested in Pierpont Avenue homicide; police say victim died after being punched without warning

Salt Lake City police investigators at the scene of a weekend homicide in a Pierpont Avenue parking lot Sunday, July 10, 2022. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, July 13, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake City Police Department has announced an arrest in the deadly assault of a 37-year-old man in a Pierpont Avenue parking lot early Sunday morning.

According to a SLCPD press release, the victim, identified as Yusuf Mohammed, died after being punched in the face “one time without warning or provocation.”

The suspect, 21-year-old Kepueli Penisini was arrested Tuesday by the Salt Lake City Police Department’s Central Bike Squad. He’s since been booked into Salt Lake County Metro Jail on a single count of criminal homicide by assault, police say.

“This investigation started at 1:51 a.m. on Sunday July 10, 2022 when SLC911 received information about an assault in-progress at 149 West Pierpont Avenue,” the SLCPD statement said.

Patrol officers already in the area encountered a “chaotic scene with more than 100 people on the streets” some of whom were engaged in a “large fight,” the press release stated.

As other partiers continued to stream from at least two nearby nightclubs, police requested backup after hearing “multiple gunshots being fired in the area” while they worked along with S.L. County sheriff deputies and security guards to control and disperse the crowds.

In a search of the surrounding area, police “located 37-year-old Yusuf Mohammed on the ground, unconscious, with face and head trauma. “Officers performed immediate life-saving efforts and paramedics transported Mohammed to the hospital in critical condition where he later died from his injuries,” the press release said.

Multiple witnesses told investigators the victim was “standing in the parking lot when a group of men approached him.”

A person “wearing black clothing then punched Mohammed in the face, causing him to lose consciousness and fall to the ground.”

Police said surveillance cameras recorded the attack, allowing investigators to help identify Penisini as the alleged assailant.

Officers with the SLCPD Central Bike Squad located and detained Penisini, the SLCPD statement said.

Photo: Salt Lake City police officers on the scene of a weekend homicide in a Pierpont Avenue parking lot. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown addressed the weekend violence, saying “There have been several high-profile incidents occurring at and around the Pierpont entertainment district, but those incidents certainly do not define this important part of our city and its culture.

“As a police department, we are committed to proactively addressing the concerns along Pierpont Avenue, but it will take more than just extra police officers or security guards, it will require people to stop allowing situations to escalate into potentially dangerous – and now deadly – situations. The best way to keep safe is to avoid the potential for conflicts and to report anything suspicious by calling 9-1-1,” Brown said.

The SLCPD press release said the department has added additional patrols around Pierpont Avenue and West Temple over the last several weeks “as part of a proactive crime reduction approach.” The department has also “met with the owners of several entertainment venues and businesses in the area to help mitigate and to help prevent future violence. Those efforts are ongoing.”

The SLCPD is asking that anyone with information on this case, including people with photos or videos to please call 801-799-3000 and reference case number 22-129894.”

The SLCPD release said the Pierpont Avenue area murder was the seventh homicide in Salt Lake City for 2022.

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