Police provide new insights into shooting of 3 Hunter High School football players

Police on the scene of a fatal shooting near Hunter High School in West Valley City, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah, Jan. 14, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — The West Valley City Police Department is providing new insights into Thursday’s fatal shooting of two Hunter High School students, and the wounding of a third.

All three of the boys were football players.

They have been identified as 15-year-old Paul Tahi and 14-year-old Tivani Lopati. The teen who survived with critical injuries is Ephraim Asiata, 15, son of former Utah Utes running back Matt Asiata.

Four boys, age 14 and 15, were taken into custody for questioning after the shooting; all were released except the suspected shooter, who is 14.

A gun was also recovered at the site of the shooting.

WVCPD on Friday shared a series of tweets about the status of the case, while cautioning potential readers that real answers would take more investigation and time.

“We know many of you have questions about the shooting of three teens yesterday near Hunter High,” WVCPD said. “We want to be as helpful & transparent as possible about the investigative process & what happens now. This thread is to answer some of the questions out there as best we can right now.”

How did the 14-year-old suspected in the shooting of three teens obtain a gun?

“The short answer is we don’t have that information yet. We are processing & tracing the weapon. This process takes time, but can help track down how the weapon came into a juvenile’s possession.”

Police evidence marker next to weapon believed used in fatal shooting outside Hunter High School which killed 2 students, and critically wounded another. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

Why were three teens suspected in this case released?

“We had evidence to book the suspected shooter. It does not mean that no one else will face charges. Others may still face charges. All evidence will be presented to the District Attorney who will ultimately make those decisions.”

Bystanders at the scene of a fatal shooting near Hunter High School in West Valley City, Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022. Police say two people were killed and a third injured. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Monico Garza/SLCScanner

Is the gun recovered in this case the one used in the shooting?

“We know the gun recovered is connected to the shooting and suspect it is the gun that fired the shots that hit the three teens. Ballistics testing is the only way to definitively confirm that. This process is underway.”

Why does the investigation take so long?

“While investigations on TV shows wrap up in an hour, real investigations take much longer. We get one go at an investigation. We want to be absolutely thorough and successful in determining facts. Accuracy trumps speed.”

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