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Pending divorce may have sparked brutal shootings of two women, police say

SALT LAKE CITY — Monday was supposed to be Jai Hogue's first day teaching preschool in Salt Lake City.

Instead, Hogue, 42, remained hospitalized in extremely critical condition with a severed spine and a gunshot wound to her head among her many injuries, fighting for her life following a domestic violence-related shooting that also resulted in her friend, Jenny Andrus, 42, being shot multiple times.

Both women were shot several times on Saturday, allegedly by Andrus' estranged husband, 37-year-old Valentin Dulla Santarromana, who remained in the Salt Lake County Jail Monday awaiting official charges from the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office.

Despite being shot in both her legs, an arm, and once in the back of the head, which resulted in her losing an eye, Andrus was moved out of the intensive care unit of the hospital and was speaking with investigators — something Unified Police Lt. Lex Bell said was "nothing short of unbelievable."

"She was shot in the head, lost an eye, and she still managed a couple of days later to tell her story. That's pretty amazing," he said.

With her statements, detectives continued piecing together what may have led up to Saturday's violent episode.

Bell said investigators believe Andrus and Santarromana's pending divorce was a factor.

"He had mentioned before that the marriage was itself dissolving and the wife had expressed interest in leaving the marriage and he did not like that," Bell said. "And that was sort of what had pushed the first issue where he said he was suicidal on the 15th. So her wanting to dissolve the marriage, I think, sparked a lot of this."

On Aug. 15, Santarromana was taken to the hospital for allegedly making suicidal threats. Andrus left the house on that day. While Santarromana was in the hospital, Unified police searched his house and vehicles for weapons after Andrus told them he owned several guns and had made threats, Bell said. However, no weapons were found. Police do not know whether the man stashed them somewhere or gave them to a friend to hold.

Andrus went by the house twice between the Aug. 15 and the next Saturday, and Santarromana was not there either time, Bell said. On Saturday, Andrus and Hogue went back to the house, 3313 S. Scott Court, either arriving in the same vehicle or at about the same time in separate cars.

"Their intent in going to the house was for the wife to get property out of the house. They did not think Val was home. They thought they were going into an empty house," the lieutenant said.

Instead, when Andrus went into the house, she encountered Santarromana and a loud argument ensued. Police believe the man injured his estranged wife at that time, but the extent of her injuries at that point was not immediately known Monday.

Hogue heard the argument and went to the house out of concern. She was met by Santarromana, who shot her just outside the door, Bell said. As Hogue tried to retreat, police believe Santarromana continued to shoot until Hogue collapsed in the street about 20 feet away.

Two people in neighboring homes who heard the shots went to Hogue's aid.

"They were there trying to help her when Val allegedly came out with the gun and pointed it at them and said, 'Get out of here or you're going to be next,' to paraphrase," Bell said.

During the ensuing three hour standoff, Santarromana shot Andrus four times inside the home. Bell said it was unclear if all four shots came at once. The Unified Police Department's SWAT team entered the house after hearing gunshots coming from inside. After entering, the officers encountered a "barrage of gunfire," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.

The SWAT team, however, could smell natural gas and restrained from returning fire. Investigators later discovered a gas line in the house had been cut and the oven turned on, the report states. The SWAT team was able to take Santarromana into custody without any officers being hurt. Outside the house, Bell said Santarromana told an officer he was going to take his gun and force the officer to kill him.

Both Andrus and Hogue are connected to the Open Classroom charter school, 134 D St. Andrus has children who attend the school, and Hogue had worked in the library for several years prior to becoming a teacher this year.

"Our heart and our prayers and thoughts are with Jai, our preschool teacher, and also Jenny, one of our parents," said Principal Martin Yablonovski, who described the school as "devastated."

"We met as a faculty right before school and we have an extra team of counselors from the Salt Lake City School District here to provide support for students, parents, teachers, anyone who may need that extra help," he said. "Here at the Open Classroom, we're a very tight community and everyone knows everybody. And Jai and Jenny are both beloved and we as the Open Classroom are thinking about them, we're praying for them, and they're in our thoughts and we're very hopeful that things will get better soon."

Yablonovski also had a prepared statement from Hogue's husband, Spencer Hogue.

"Our family and friends are concentrating all of our efforts on helping the victims and their families. The tragic events that happened on Saturday have been heartbreaking, and the families need their privacy so that we can begin the healing process."

Andrus is listed on the University of Utah's website as an assistant professor who has taught English, writing and rhetoric studies. She also had a book published in February about women and domestic violence, according to the website.

Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting the YWCA, Women in Jeopardy, 801-537-8600, or the Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-897-LINK (5465).

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam