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Trolley shop owner directed police to gunman in shoot-out

Barrett Dodds, owner of the Brass Key antiques shop at Trolley Square, took swift action when he saw a gunman firing: he grabbed a bar stool, intending to throw it at the shooter, then directed an Ogden city policeman to the man.

Dodds tried to protect people at the mall by warning shopkeepers to lock their doors, and he watched the killer shoot a man who was already down.

The following account is pieced together from two interviews. The first, recorded by the Deseret Morning News, happened when KUTV reporter Rod Decker interviewed Dodds; the second when the newspaper asked Dodds to go over the incident again.

Dodds, a resident of Salt Lake City, was on the second floor of Trolley Square, where his shop is, when he heard gunshots.

He "ran out, looked over the edge, saw a guy with the rifle (later he said it was a shotgun) to his shoulder, shooting. ... he had a long tan trench coat, black backpack, gun to his shoulder like he was hunting — taking aim and shooting."

The gunman was "6 foot tall, long dark hair," he added. He "kept reaching into his pocket" and pulling out ammunition. "I didn't see a handgun."

Dodds turned to people in a dress store and told them to get inside and lock the door. He saw his grandfather come out of his own store, "yelled across the hall for him to get inside and shut the door."

Spectators were looking around, and he ran down the hall, telling people to get inside, lock up and hide.

At one business, "they thought I was the crazy one," he said. He yelled that they needed to lock up, and "they looked at me like I was crazy. I had to yell, 'There's a guy out there with a gun! Lock up!'

"And I think they locked up to keep me out ... "

He left as "there were more stores I had to get to."

Several stores locked up at his warning, he said. Meanwhile, he was doing his best to keep his eye on the shooter.

He witnessed him shooting a man who was down.

"When I saw him shoot him, I think the guy had already been dead and I think he was shooting him some more," Dodds said.

At some point, Dodds "grabbed a bar stool and ran back to where I saw the shooter. I didn't know what I was going to do with the bar stool, but I knew something had to be done. Too many gunshots going off, too many people."

He was on the second floor, directly above the gunman.

"He was down low, I was up high looking down on him. He hadn't really seen me yet. I think he heard me, turned to take a couple shots up toward me, but I don't think he'd actually seen me. I was trying to figure out, what can I do from up here with a bar stool? There's nothing else I can really throw. There's garbage cans but he's too far, I can't hit him with that, they're too heavy.

"And I'm up there trying to figure out, what do I do?"

At that point, "I see a guy creeping up with the gun drawn. And I make eye contact with him."

The man, who was not in uniform, "yells up, 'Ogden City Police Department.' And so I do what I can to motion him," using his hands to indicate the shooter's whereabouts.

"But he (the Ogden officer) got pinned down behind a brick column. The shooter was taking shots at him. I believe he took a couple shots at the shooter, received more shots toward him."

The officer was saying, "Drop the gun, put your hands up, Police Department," he said.

"Neither one of them had a very good shot at each other, so it was just a couple of random shots here and there."

The shooter had ducked into the Pottery Barn Kids store and Dodds could not see him. "I can the see the officer duck down behind a column. He yells out, 'I've only got six shots,"' to indicate he could not keep up a firefight for long.

"Well, I can't see him," Dodds told the Ogden officer. "I can't see him. He's directly underneath me."

Then the Ogden officer "looked the other way, held up his badge, stated he was Ogden City Police Department." He was letting three Salt Lake City police officers, who had just arrived at the scene, know that he was police also.

The three Salt Lake officers, who were armed with automatic rifles, "joined him and turned and went in after the guy."

When he saw them, "I dropped the bar stool 'cause I didn't think I needed that in my hands. Kind of stepped back so I didn't get a ricochet or anything. I figured my duty with the stool was done and I'd let them do their thing with their more efficient weapons."

The officers faced the Pottery Barn Kids store and he could hear orders to drop the weapon, then "bang, bang." The fusillade sounded like fireworks on the Fourth of July, he said.

"It was pretty brief ... A lot of shots taken, all at once."

The police were "very organized and very professional and very strong."

After the shoot-out "it was maybe an organized panic with the evacuation of people. You know, the officers obviously wanted to get them out of the building into safety as fast as they could, but they did it as nicely as possibly could."


E-mail: bau@desnews.com