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SUSPECT’S FAMILY STRUGGLES TO UNDERSTAND

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Growing up in Montevideo, Uruguay, Jorge Ben-ven-uto loved to play soccer and fix cars.

Benvenuto, who was arrested in Lehi Thursday night in connection with the shooting of Zachary H. Snarr and Yvette Rodier, taught himself auto mechanics by reading magazines. He often helped neighbors or friends fix their cars and let them borrow his tools.He also enjoyed fishing with family members on El Rio de la Plata, a wide river between Montevideo and Buenos Aires, Argentina, which opens up into the Atlantic Ocean.

"He was always fixing his cars and helping others," Benvenuto's brother, Pablo, told the Deseret News Friday afternoon. "You could always count on him when you needed help."

Pablo, 27, even took his own car to Jorge, eight years his junior, for help on several occasions. Family members describe Jorge as a quiet but likable young man who didn't have any violent tendencies or severe mood swings.

That's why members of the Benvenuto family find it so hard to believe Jorge could have shot two teens - killing one - at Little Dell Reservoir Wednesday night.

"We really don't know what might have triggered his behavior," said Pablo, a Brigham Young University student. "He's always been a quiet person and just a normal, nice guy."

The Benvenutos, including Jorge, converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Uruguay about 11 years ago. Several years ago, the family moved to New York and then to Utah. Jorge's father, however, is divorced from his mother and now lives in Uruguay.

Jorge and Pablo lived together in an apartment complex south of BYU for six months until Pablo got married last year. While they were roommates, both brothers worked but enjoyed spending time together when they could.

"He would always buy a piece of junk of a car and then fix it up," Pablo said.

The abandoned '68 Chevy pickup found by police at Little Dell Reservoir Wednesday night was one Jorge had purchased and repaired after his previous vehicle was stolen in Salt Lake City, Pablo said.

When Pablo got married, Jorge moved to his sister's West Salt Lake apartment. But the brothers maintained a close relationship.

In fact, Pablo and his wife were with Jorge Wednesday until 6 p.m., just hours before the shooting of Snarr and Rodier at Little Dell Reservoir.

"He was perfectly fine," Pablo said. "We were watching TV and he was laughing. I don't see how he could do anything like (shoot someone). It's just not him. He had no reason for it."

While Jorge is being held by

Salt Lake County authorities, his family - like the families of the two victims - is searching for answers.

"We are very sorry for what's happened to the victims and to their families," Pablo said. "It's been a tragedy for our family. We don't understand how or why it happened."

Pablo said the incident has been especially hard on his mother, who also lives in Provo. "This has broken her heart," he said.

Benvenuto's apparent "shy, quiet type" profile is also leaving law-enforcement officials scratching their heads over the randomness of the slaying, while people who may have known him were tight-lipped.

"We have no comment whatsoever regarding that," said David Wahlstrom with Ken Garff Dealerships. Benvenuto worked for a short time at the auto dealer's parts warehouse near FranklinQuest Field on 1300 East.

A worker answering the phone at the warehouse did say he knew of a George Benvenuto and that he had worked with him, but declined saying anything else, except "this directive came from us here, not from anyone up at the top management."

Neighbors and managers at a West Salt Lake apartment complex also had little, if anything, to say about the teen. Residents near and next door to a known address where Jorge and his sister, Monica, lived for the past six months said they didn't recognize the name or description.

One of the managers, however, knew of Monica, and said she only saw her "a couple of times when she came to pay for rent and to turn in her keys when she moved."

The apartment manager insisted she did not know Jorge Benvenuto.

At her East Central City apartment in Salt Lake, Benvenuto's sister, Monica, denied even knowing her brother early Thursday when contacted by the Deseret News.

Later, when confronted with a police report detailing that Benvenuto was at his sister's place only 90 minutes before the shooting and fired a shot into a kitchen wall and sink, she said, "I don't have anything to say about it. Call the police."

Following Benvenuto's arrest late Thursday, Salt Lake County sheriff's homicide detectives grilled him about the shooting.

During the initial questioning, the suspect told investigators that "he decided he was just going to go out and kill somebody," Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Potter said.

"There was no remorse whatsoever. He told our detectives that he did not know either of the victims and was just out there driving around," Potter said.

Police were tipped off to Benvenuto's whereabouts when one of his friends, who lives in the West Salt Lake apartments, called police. Wiretaps were placed on several phones involving places where police thought Benvenuto might have been hiding. Deputy sheriffs traced the call to a Lehi address, where he was arrested without incident.

He was booked into Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder. The case could be screened as soon as next Tuesday, following the Labor Day weekend.

The only possible motives family members can think of to explain Jorge's behavior are the burglary of his apartment and the loss of his job. Both incidents happened in the past two weeks, Pablo said.

Jorge had been planning to quit his job so he could move to Las Vegas, Pablo said. When he gave supervisors his two-week notice, they told him not to come back.

Family members are unsure if that incident or two burglaries of Jorge's apartment could have caused him to shoot two strangers. Family members are sure, however, that shooting anyone is totally out of character for Jorge and inexplicable.

"He's never had a violent nature or any problems with the police or anything like that," Pablo said.

Pablo said he thinks one of Jorge's friends may have given or sold him a .44-caliber revolver several weeks ago. Jorge used the pistol for target practice several times but gave no indication he would use it to harm anyone, Pablo said.

Meanwhile, Thomas Rockwood, Zachary Snarr's LDS bishop, said his parents will hold a press conference Saturday at 3 p.m. at their home. He said the Snarrs have been inundated with interview requests since their son's death and wanted an opportunity to speak to all media representatives at once.

Deseret News staff writers Mark L. Reece contributed to this report.