DRAPER, Utah – Police in Utah investigated an anonymous tip about a man who wanted to kill his ex-girlfriend and himself just before he killed the woman and her son this month in a shooting that also injured two children, according to documents provided Wednesday in response to a public records request from The Associated Press.
The tipster called 911 about Jeremy Patterson about three hours before the shooting and told a dispatcher she had received a message from Patterson saying he had just broken up with his girlfriend and wanted to kill her and himself, according to a report from police in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper, where Patterson, the shooter, lived.
The female tipster told a police dispatcher she wanted to remain anonymous because she said knowing about the situation could put her in danger, the report said.
A Draper officer investigated the call June 6, the same day Patterson, 32, opened fire on the car his ex-girlfriend Memorez Rackley was riding in, killing her and her 6-year-old son. The shooting happened in the suburb of Sandy, which borders Draper.
The tip did not give Draper police enough information to stop the slayings, said Deputy Chief John Eining.
While the caller gave Patterson's name, police were not provided with other information about him and the tipster did not return the officer's calls to the phone number she provided, he said.
Also, the tipster did not provide Rackley's name, Eining said.
The officer searched for Patterson's name in two police databases, but found several people by the same name and could not determine which one might be related to the call, the documents said. The tipster also did not provide an address for Patterson in the 911 call, so police did not know he lived in Draper.
Documents said the officer's investigation lasted about 10 minutes and police concluded the officer handled it properly, Eining said.
If the officer had tracked Patterson down, the most serious possible violation based on the tip would likely have been a citation for making threats, Eining said.
"The worst case scenario played out in this case, but typically the worst case scenario does not play out," Eining said. "When somebody has this in his mindset to do this, it's very difficult to stop."
Police have said Patterson encountered Rackley later that day and argued with her as she walked her children home from school. A passing motorist with three children in her sports utility vehicle stopped and picked up Rackley and her children to help them.
But Patterson followed them in his pickup truck and rammed the SUV off the street, got out and started shooting, police have said. Rackley and her son were killed before Patterson killed himself. Rackley's 11-year-old son and the daughter of the woman driving the SUV were wounded.
The shooting came three days after Rackley told Sandy police that Patterson had been relentlessly stalking her and she was afraid for her safety, according to Sandy police documents obtained by the AP in a previous public records request.
Rackley told officers she did not want to press charges against Patterson but that she would seek a court protective order for him to stay away from her and her children.
Court records in the Salt Lake City area show no indication that she did so before the shooting.
Draper police were not aware of Rackley's call to police in neighboring Sandy. It did not show up in a database search because the two cities have separate record-keeping systems, Eining said.