Prosecutor: Police Were Justified In Fatally Shooting Gunman At Utah Mall

Friday, February 16th 2007, 6:18 pm
By: News On 6

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Police officers acted properly in gunning down a Bosnian teenager who shot five people to death in a mall crowded with shoppers, a prosecutor said Friday.

``They were legally justified in using deadly force,'' District Attorney Lohra Miller said of the four Salt Lake City officers.

The first officer to confront the 18-year-old gunman was Ken Hammond, who was off-duty and out of uniform when he heard gunshots at the shopping center. He traded fire with Sulejman Talovic and was credited with keeping the assailant occupied until other officers arrived.

Miller found no fault with Hammond's actions, but his role was being reviewed separately by authorities in Ogden, north of Salt Lake City, because that's where he works.

Also Friday, lawmakers and the governor honored the five officers at the state Capitol. Hammond was given a medal by his boss, Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner, who also is a state senator.

``I feel bad that I didn't react sooner and prevent more loss of lives,'' Hammond told lawmakers. ``But I'm also very thankful I was there.''

Investigators have not determined a motive for Monday's rampage.

Authorities released Talovic's body to a mortuary Friday. Relatives said his parents planned to bury him in Bosnia.

Talovic moved to the Salt Lake City area with his family in 1998, joining several thousand other immigrants from the Balkans, many of whom fled ethnic violence in their homeland.