A review by the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office has determined no criminal charges will be filed in connection with a shooting death of an 18-year-old man last month.
Police say Mafileo T. Fonua died after a shotgun blast to the leg on May 23 in front of his home at 483 N. Dorthea Way (1860 West).Salt Lake police detective Steve Wooldridge said Fonua died as the result of a struggle over a shotgun.
His home had been peppered with gunfire in previous weeks due to an ongoing feud between two rival gangs. Angered, Fonua grabbed the gun and went out into the street.
He was followed by a 17-year-old boy who claimed the same gang affiliation as Fonua and tried to take the gun from him.
During a struggle over the weapon, the shotgun went off, with one of the rounds striking Fonua in the leg, Wooldridge said.
Fonua died three days later at an area hospital.
Wooldridge said a subsequent investigation confirmed the shooting was accidental. "We have not been able to determine any credible information that would say this was anything but an accident," Wooldridge said.
The shooting brought divisiveness to a neighborhood police say is already plagued by rival gang tensions.
Wooldridge said Funoa's home has continued to be victimized by drive-by shootings since his death as the result of tensions between the two gangs.
Rumors were rampant that Funoa died as the result of gang retaliation, but Wooldridge said evidence never pointed to anything beyond a tragic, accidental shooting. "In reality, this teenager may have been trying to prevent a crime."