CRIME

Police believe they’ve found murder weapon and pinpoint suspect in double homicide near Hunter High

Jan 14, 2022, 8:03 PM
(Loved ones of the two shooting victims paying their respects at a makeshift memorial.  Photo: Paul...
(Loved ones of the two shooting victims paying their respects at a makeshift memorial. Photo: Paul Nelson, January 14, 2022)
(Loved ones of the two shooting victims paying their respects at a makeshift memorial. Photo: Paul Nelson, January 14, 2022)

WEST VALLEY CITY — Investigators in West Valley are still trying to learn how a teenager was able to get the gun used to reportedly kill two boys near Hunter High School.  However, they say they’re getting a clear picture of who may have pulled the trigger. 

Several people stopped by the makeshift memorial for Paul Tahi and Tivani Lopati on 4100 South near Highland High School.  One of these visitors was Cameron Earl, who played with the victims on Hunter’s football team one year and briefly coached them the next.  He says Lopati was a “bright soul.”

Earl said, “He always had a joke.  He was always goofing around and he was just a joy to be around all the time.”

Earl said the same could be said for Tahi.  Plus, he has high praise for Ephraim Asiata, who was seriously injured in the shooting.  He says people in the community were already suffering after another teen was killed in a car crash in mid-2021.

“There are a lot of people in this community that have been very tight to all four of these boys.  The amount of heartache that so many people have gone through is really heartbreaking,” Earl said.

Police say four teens were arrested in connection with the shooting, and investigators noticed a pattern when they were interviewing them.

West Valley Police Spokesperson Roxeane Vainuku said, “There was one of them that stood out as being, potentially, the shooter.”

That suspect was booked into the juvenile facility, and Vainuku says the other three suspects were allowed to go home.  However, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t face charges, later.  Plus, investigators believe they’ve found the murder weapon, although it has to be tested, then traced to see where the gun came from.

“This process does take time, but it’s worth it.  It’s worth our patience because this could actually end up showing us the path that led to this gun ending up in the hands of a 14-year-old,” Vainuku said.

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Police believe they’ve found murder weapon and pinpoint suspect in double homicide near Hunter High