Suspect charged after shooting leaves South Jordan Police officer with life-threatening injuries

Police responded to a report of gunshots and "officer down" on Tarali Court in South Jordan on Friday night, Nov. 26, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah, Dec. 7, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A South Jordan man arrested after police say he shot a SJPD officer multiple times has been charged with aggravated murder.

The officer remains hospitalized after the Nov. 26 incident, so the charge is likely to be updated to attempted aggravated murder.

Suspect Malui Salesi Vehikite, 29, faces initial charges of:

  • Aggravated murder, a first-degree felony
  • Two counts of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony
  • Possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, a third-degree felony
  • Felony discharge of a firearm, a third-degree felony

Vehikite’s probable cause statement says South Jordan Police officers made contact, at the address of 10424 S. Tarali Court, to “conduct a knock and talk” regarding a stolen vehicle case in which Vehikite is a suspect.

“Officers, who were identified by badge and multiple other identifiers, were attempting to contact Malui Salesi Vehikite, who is a suspect in an active stolen vehicle case they are investigating and who has multiple felony warrants for his arrest,” the statement says. “Officers made contact at the residence and spoke with the residents who allowed them into the residence to check for Malui Vehikite.”

Officers entered a basement bedroom to attempt to clear it for their safety.

“Sgt. on scene reported hearing Malui say ‘Don’t’ or ‘No,’ and then saw Malui walking backwards down the hallway, holding a gun,” the affidavit says. “Sgt. reported hearing gunshots and seeing Officer C.W. fall to the floor. Sgt stated he could see C.W. had an injury to his leg.”

Police responded to a report of gunshots and “officer down” on Tarali Court in South Jordan on Friday night, Nov. 26, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

The sergeant continued in the direction he believed Vehikete had gone, toward stairs leading upstairs.

“Sgt. M.A. said he heard several more gun shots and when he entered the stairwell, he observed Malui laying on the second platform of the stairs. Malui sustained several gunshot wounds and received emergency assistance before being transported to the hospital, where he currently remains.”

The sergeant returned to the injured officer, identified as C.W., and “assisted in rendering aid, which included placing a tourniquet to C.W.’s leg, before he was transported to the hospital for emergency surgery.”

Later the same day, a search warrant was granted for the residence, and turned up evidence including several bullet fragments, casings, firearms, drug paraphernalia, “and multiple mixed prescribed pills in a prescription bottle not belonging to Malui Vehikite, marijuana, and dab (concentrated hash oil, derived from marijuana). The prescription drugs and some of the drug paraphernalia were in the downstairs area of the residence where Malui Vehikite was staying/occupying with his other personal belongings.”

The marijuana, dab and additional drug paraphernalia were in a black bag that was attached to the gun holster which was being carried by Malui at the time the incident occurred.

“A plethora of driver’s licenses and credits cards that were all in different names and none of which belonged to Malui, multiple personal checks written to Malui (all appearing to be written in the same handwriting), and a large amount of house, shed, and car keys were located in the room where Malui was sleeping. Based on my training and experience, the items are all consistent with burglaries or thefts,” the officer’s statement says.

“Blood was located throughout the home, including in the downstairs bedroom where Officer C.W. was shot in the leg. Officer C.W.’s clothing was also located in the basement bedroom, and C.W.’s pants were found to have a hole matching where C.W.’s had been shot on his left leg.”

Police responded to a report of gunshots and “officer down” on Tarali Court in South Jordan on Friday night, Nov. 26, 2021. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

A brass-colored shell casing, which did not match officers’ rounds, was found inside the bedroom Vehikite had been using.

“A handgun was recovered from the scene which is believed to be the firearm that Malui used to shoot Officer C.W.”

Vehikite was restricted from owning a firearm due to previous drug convictions, the statement says.

Officer C.W.’s gunshot wound, for which is is still hospitalized, “was found to be potentially fatal had he not received proper and exigent medical treatment,” Vehikite’s probable cause statement says.

“The bullet caused C.W. to have a severed femoral artery and a shattered femur.”

A review of body camera footage shows Vehikite “exiting a room in the basement pointing his weapon at Officer C.W. and Sgt. M.A.,” the statement says.

“Malui then shoots Officer C.W., who returns fire. Malui continues to the stairs in the residence and points his firearm at Officer G.W., who fires at Malui. The body camera footage clearly captures Malui pointing and shooting his firearm in the direction of Officer C.W. and clearly captures Malui pointing his firearm at Officer G.W., who in response fires his weapon at Malui.”

A judge ordered Vehikite be held without bail.


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