SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A California man was shot and killed Friday after opening fire on police officers during an overnight traffic stop in downtown Salt Lake City, authorities said.
Two officers were wounded in the shootout and expected to survive, Salt Lake City police Chief Chris Burbank said.
The incident began about 2:15 a.m. when an officer stopped a Jeep with two men inside about a block south of the Salt Palace Convention Center in a section of the city that is usually quiet and calm.
The passenger, Christopher Leo Knight, 34, of Lakeport gave police misleading statements and officers asked him to get out of the car, authorities said.
Knight then drew a handgun and opened fire on the officers, hitting one in the in the leg and the other in the arm, according to authorities. Both officers shot back, killing Knight.
Burbank said police know little about Knight so far. He doesn’t have any previous criminal record in Utah, online court records show.
Officer Mo Tafisi, a nine-year-veteran of the department, was hit in the left arm and is already home. Officer Dan Tueller, with the department less than two years, was hit in the thigh and is still in the hospital after surgery, Burbank said.
“I’m extremely impressed with the way these officers handled the situation,” Burbank said. “We don’t celebrate the fact that our officers had to use deadly force but in certain circumstances we are left with no other option.”
Police detained the driver of the car then let him go after determining he wasn’t involved in the shooting.
Detectives don’t know why Knight attacked the officers, Burbank said. They have searched the car and started reviewing evidence, but the chief declined to talk about what they found, citing the ongoing investigation.
The area where the shootout occurred near a high-end steakhouse and popular bar is a bustling spot during the day and on weekend nights.
Tafisi and Tueller were the first Salt Lake City police officers shot on duty since August 2010, when Officer Uppson Downes was hit in the leg while stopping a heavily armed man outside a hotel.
Both officers in the Friday attack credited the other with saving their lives, said Burbank, who spoke with Tafisi and Tueller in the hospital.
“The fact that there were multiple officers there certainly prevented a tragedy,” Burbank said.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.