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Teen accused of killing Hunter High students could be charged as an adult

Jan 19, 2022, 11:16 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2022, 6:30 am
Hunter high memorial...
A memorial honoring 15-year-old Paul Tahi and 14-year-old Tivani Lopati is pictured in West Valley on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. The two teenagers were shot and killed on a sidewalk Thursday morning and another teen, also 15, was shot and critically injured. The two teens who died were freshmen football players at Hunter High School. Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — During a detention hearing on Wednesday, prosecutors confirmed that the teenager accused of fatally shooting two Hunter High students last week may be charged as an adult.

Prosecutors said they intend to have this case transferred to adult court, but they asked for an extension to file formal charges.

In the meantime, the suspect will stay in state custody in juvenile detention. No official charges have been filed yet against the 14-year-old boy. 

Related: Victims identified, suspect in custody after deadly shooting near Hunter High School

The suspect is accused of fatally shooting 15-year-old Paul Tahi and 14-year-old Tivani Lopati. He is also accused of wounding Ephraim Asiata, age 15. The shooting happened on Thursday, Jan. 13 on a sidewalk around 4100 South and the Mountain View Corridor.

West Valley City Police said two groups of students had fought verbally and then physically, ahead of the fatal shooting.  

The two boys that were killed were freshman football players at Hunter High School.

During the hearing, the suspect tried to make a statement to the judge. During a video appearance, he said he is a “good kid.” But Judge Mark May advised him it was best for him not to say anything at this time.

Related: Hunter High students grieve the loss of their peers

Contributing: Simone Seikaly

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Teen accused of killing Hunter High students could be charged as an adult