I do hope that he can recover for the sake of his family. I don't know if they're close or anything anymore, but I know he still loves them, and I'm sure they still love him. He's their dad – Rabranda Newton

MURRAY — A man suspected of burglary who was shot after brandishing a weapon at police in a Murray park Sunday remained in critical condition Monday.

Sandy police identified the man as Joby James Romano, 46, of Levan, based on fingerprints, Sgt. Dean Carriger said.

The shooting occurred after witnesses reported a man going through yards and a recreational vehicle about 10 a.m. and told police they last saw him go into a restroom in the park at 6150 S. 725 East. Several officers responded to the area, including an off-duty officer on his way to work who stopped at the park, Carriger said Sunday.

The officer found Romano in a restroom, where a minor confrontation occurred, Carriger said. The officer saw what appeared to be a handgun in Romano's waistband, he said. The officer confronted Romano a second time as he left the bathroom, shooting him once in the face when Romano apparently pulled out the weapon and began turning toward him.

Romano was taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Investigators later determined the handgun was an all-black pellet gun that was allegedly taken in the burglary Murray officers were investigating.

The officer, who had not yet reported to work, was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting, Carriger said. No other officers or vehicles in the area captured footage of the shooting.

State court records indicate Romano's criminal history in Utah dates back to 1988, including misdemeanor convictions including intoxication, domestic violence, assault, theft, and possession of a controlled substance; and felony convictions for drug possession, burglary, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Rabranda Newton, whose deceased husband had a long-standing friendship with Romano, said Monday that Romano had taken steps to change his life earlier this year, but may have been struggling recently to maintain the progress he had made.

"From the time they were in their early 20s, (Romano and Newton's husband) got into drugs," Newton said. "Joby has just kind of been on and off. He goes to jail, he gets out of jail. He goes to prison, gets out of prison, and just kind of goes back to the same thing."

While an inmate at the Utah State Prison earlier this year, Romano wrote to Newton expressing his desire to leave destructive habits behind. Romano is a father of three children, she said.

"I do hope that he can recover for the sake of his family. I don't know if they're close or anything anymore, but I know he still loves them, and I'm sure they still love him. He's their dad," Newton said.

In April, Romano participated in a 5K race with the Addict II Athlete group, which meets weekly to discuss addiction issues and train for running and cycling events. Newton shared her sadness Monday that Romano hadn't continued the progress he began with the running group, which she has seen help a number of people to make lasting changes in their lives.

"I know people who have joined the (Addict II Athlete) program, and it has made every difference in their whole life to be able to have closeness with people who have been where they've been and been able to stay sober," Newton said. "I know that if he would have stuck with Addict II Athlete, it really would have benefitted him in his life."

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com, Twitter: McKenzieRomero