SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A robbery suspect who was killed after leading police on a vehicle pursuit in Salt Lake City had fired his weapon numerous times at different locations throughout the metro area before officers found him and began the chase, authorities said Tuesday.
A detailed timeline released by Salt Lake City area police shed new light on Harold Vincent Robinson’s actions Monday morning and show how remarkable it was that no bystanders or officers were killed. One officer suffered minor injuries from a ricocheted bullet, and a bystander suffered a minor injury.
“Just the totality of what occurred; we are very, very fortunate,” said Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera at a news conference Tuesday. “I can tell you that we are going to continue working together as police departments to train and be prepared because we know society is changing and these types of things are going to continue to occur.”
A total of 15 officers from three agencies who were involved in the chaotic pursuit were put on administrative leave pending the investigation, per protocol.
Officials didn’t say how many of them fired their weapons or how many total shots were fired. But a witness video provided to KUTV in Salt Lake City showed what looked like at least one dozen officers unleashing a rain of gunfire on the Robinson’s truck after he crashed into a tailor’s shop.
Police said Robinson’s string of crimes began when he stole a case of beer and flashed a handgun at a convenience store in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville. Thirty minutes later, Robinson pulled the gun again and demanded money at a different convenience store, firing the gun inside, police said.
Within the next half hour before police met up with him, Robinson fired shots from his truck near a hotel and three other Salt Lake City locations, police said. During the pursuit, they say Robinson fired at several police cars that followed him.
Robinson, 37, died after crashing into a tailor’s shop, where police fired dozens of rounds at his truck.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said having 10 officers on leave will force him to juggle schedules and pay overtime until the investigation is completed. “Yesterday, we dealt with one of the most dangerous situations a police department can ever deal with,” Brown said.
The owner of a Salt Lake City sewing and alteration shop where Robinson crashed said the incident made him feel like he was back in the war in his native country of Iraq, the Salt Lake Tribune reports . Tom Mahdi, who came to Utah with his family as refugees in 2009 , said he was alone in the rear of the shop when the truck crashed into the storefront.
“It was like the end of the world,” Mahdi said. “A lot of rocks and dirt and very loud booms and everything. . . . Today is like reliving the war in Iraq.”