Man shot in lobby of Utah police department after pulling out gun
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah – A man who told authorities months ago that he wanted to be killed by police entered a suburban Salt Lake City police station Monday and pointed a gun at an officer and a records clerk, prompting another officer to open fire on him, wounding the man in the arm.
The shooting at about 8:30 a.m. in the heart of West Valley City caused panic at a bustling train and bus stop nearby, with people taking cover as they heard gunshots and saw officers storm outside with their weapons drawn. No one else was hurt as the suspect was quickly shot and apprehended.
James Ramsey Kammeyer, 39, was released from a hospital Monday afternoon and booked into jail on suspicion of attempted homicide, threat of terrorism, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon by a prohibited user, said police Sgt. Jason Hauer. Kammeyer is a registered sex offender.
Hauer said Kammeyer is not cooperating with investigators, invoking his Miranda rights and refusing to answer questions.
It's unknown if Kammeyer had an attorney as of Monday night. His family declined to comment.
Kammeyer went into the police department's lobby alone Monday morning and repeatedly asked an officer to come out from behind a partition, police Sgt. Jason Hauer said.
Kammeyer had his hands in his pockets and his behavior quickly raised suspicion, Hauer said.
The officer behind the glass asked Kammeyer to show his hands. Kammeyer instead turned his back to the officer, pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer and a nearby records clerk.
One of several officers who came to help then fired multiple rounds at Kammeyer, hitting him twice in the arm.
"Obviously, the officer felt the threat was such that he had to take action, and shots were fired," Hauer said. He didn't know if Kammeyer fired his gun.
Police spent the day serving search warrants on Kammeyer's home and car, looking for anything that could provide insight into his actions.
Monday's encounter with Kammeyer wasn't the first for West Valley City police.
After responding to a call of a suicidal person, Kammeyer told officers in December he wanted to die by being shot by police because he was a registered sex offender and his wife was taking his kids, Hauer said. Officers talked him down that night.
Court records show Kammeyer pleaded guilty in 1999 to child sex abuse. He was given credit for 120 days spent in jail and sentenced to 36 months' probation, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said. He also was ordered to undergo treatment and write a letter of apology to the victim's parents.
But court records show Kammeyer violated the terms of his probation in 2002, and it was revoked and reinstated. He completed probation in 2004.
Kammeyer's 1999 felony conviction would have prohibited him from possessing any guns, said Dwayne Baird, spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety.
Hauer said Kammeyer recently was estranged from his wife, but he had no further details about his family.
Kammeyer's handgun was found in the small police lobby that was filled with broken glass and had at least two bullet holes in the window. The building is near offices, stores, restaurants and the city hall of this west-Salt Lake City suburb of about 132,000 people.
It also sits a mere 30 yards from a Trax light rail line stop and a public bus stop. City officials briefly ordered a stop to light-rail service at the station near the police department, along with area bus service, Utah Transit Authority spokesman Remi Barron said.
The area surrounding the police department was taped off as investigators looked for evidence. But when the shooting occurred, dozens of people were getting on and off the train and bus.
Bonnie Barkhimer was sitting on the light rail train stopped nearby when she said she saw six or seven police officers swarm out of building when the shooting occurred. She jumped into the doorway -- preparing to get off if needed. But police asked all riders to stay inside. They interviewed her and others about what they saw.
She said she never saw the suspect but there were a "ton of bullets."
"This is supposed to be a safe, civilian place," said Barkhimer, who was on her way to the Veteran's Administration hospital. "Not a place of gunfire."
Leilani Wolfgramm, who was on her way to school, also witnessed the shooting from the train. When the shots were fired, Wolfgramm said dozens of people standing at the light rail station dove for the ground or tried to board the train.
Hauer said officers came out to make sure everyone was safe on the train and at the bus stop but didn't fire any shots.
The beleaguered police department has drawn attention after federal and local prosecutors dropped nearly 100 cases that came out of the department's drug unit. The now-disbanded narcotics unit is the subject of internal investigations and probes by the county attorney, U.S. attorney's office and the FBI.
Monday's shooting, by a veteran officer whom police are not identifying, will be investigated by the Salt Lake County district attorney's office, Hauer said.