Update: Officials ID suspect after South Jordan officer-involved shooting

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah, Dec. 1, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — South Jordan police have identified a suspect after an officer-involved shooting Friday night.

The officer, shot in the lower leg, is in serious condition, and remains in hospital. He sustained a severed femoral artery and a shattered femur.

The suspect, shot multiple times, is in critical but stable condition, and also remains in hospital.

A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake City said suspect Malui Salesi Vehikite, 29, is facing charges of:

  • Aggravated attempted 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

Officers from South Jordan Police Department were dispatched to the area of of 10450 S. Tarali Court to conduct a knock-and-talk, which is an investigative technique where one or more police officers approaches a private residence, knocks on the door, and requests consent from the owner to search the residence.

“Officers 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 said. “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 which they were attempting to clear, the statement said. A sergeant on scene reported hearing the suspect saying “don’t” or “no,” then saw Vehikite walking backwards down the hallway, holding a gun. The sergeant then reported hearing gunshots and seeing an officer fall to the floor. The sergeant said he could see the other officer had an injury to his leg, the statement said.

The sergeant said he then followed Vehikite, believing he had gone towards the stairs leading towards the upstairs. The sergeant “said he heard several more gun shots and when he entered the stairwell, he observed Malui laying on the second platform of the stairs,” the statement said. “Malui sustained several gunshot wounds and received emergency assistance before being transported to the hospital where he currently remains.”

The sergeant then returned to the injured officer and assisted in rendering aid; he was then transported to the hospital for emergency surgery.

A search warrant of the suspect’s residence was executed. Among the items found were several bullet fragments, casings, firearms, drug paraphernalia, multiple mixed prescribed pills in a prescription bottle not belonging to Vehikite, marijuana, and dab, a concentrated hash oil derived from marijuana. “The marijuana, dab and additional drug paraphernalia was in a black bag that was attached to the gun holster which was being carried by Malui at the time the incident occurred,” the statement said.

Also found were “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 located in the room where Malui was sleeping,” the statement said.

Blood was found throughout the home, and a brass-colored shell casing was located outside the bedroom door, which did not match any of the officer’s rounds that would have been fired. A handgun was recovered from the scene which is believed to be the firearm that was used by the suspect.

Body camera footage was reviewed; Vehikite could be observed exiting a room in the basement and pointing his weapon at the officer; he then shot the officer, who returned fire, the statement said. Vehikite then continued to the stairs and then pointed his firearm at another officer, who then fired at the suspect.

Vehikite had four warrants of his arrest. He is being held without bail.

Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted his concern for the officer on Saturday morning.

“Our hearts are with this brave officer and his family as we pray for his full recovery. We are once again filled with gratitude to the brave men and women who daily put themselves in harm’s way to serve and protect their fellow citizens.”

In keeping with officer-involved critical incident policy, officers directly involved in the shooting will remain on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation by officials outside of the South Jordan Police Department.

Salt Lake County Team Two will handle the investigation.

Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.


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