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Police: Man suffers life-threatening injuries in random attack at Salt Lake hotel

A random attack at a Salt Lake hotel Tuesday left one man with life-threatening injuries, police said.
A random attack at a Salt Lake hotel Tuesday left one man with life-threatening injuries, police said.
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SALT LAKE CITY — A random attack at a Salt Lake hotel Tuesday left one man with life-threatening injuries, police said.

Salt Lake police believe Justin Wilkens, 40, was high on crack cocaine and Spice around 2:25 a.m. when he allegedly attacked a man at the Rodeway Inn, 616 S. 200 West.

Wilkens was calling 911 about "something that was bothering him," Salt Lake police said in a statement, but kept dialing the wrong number and couldn't reach dispatchers. He approached a man after he had gotten off the elevator and then knocked on the man's hotel door, demanding his cellphone, according to Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking.

After the man refused, Wilkens head-butted, hit, kicked and strangled him, Wilking said. Officers arrived to find the man semiconscious and lying on the floor next to Wilkens.

After "Wilkens became very aggressive and began attacking the victim again," a police officer used a Taser to subdue him, police said in a statement.

The victim, in his early 30s, was taken to a nearby hospital. His condition is "very serious" and his injuries — including head trauma — are life-threatening, Wilking said.

Wilkens was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Police may pursue more serious charges if the victim's condition deteriorates, according to Wilking.

Wilking said it was alarming to find out that Wilkens "just flat-out attacked" the man at random.

"His behavior was really, really strange," the detective said. "The Spice is dangerous stuff. It’s really causing a lot of issues. … We’re seeing so many bizarre incidents surrounding it. His behavior is consistent with the inconsistencies of Spice."

Wilking said he believes the drugs drove Wilkens to violent behavior.

"He was obviously delusional from the drugs, thus making any motive he had unreasonable," he said. "The (victim) was really just unprepared for the assault that he received."

Wilking praised the responding officers for subduing Wilkens.

"Our officers did a good job of possibly saving this (victim's) life," he said.

Wilkens was convicted of a reduced misdemeanor drug possession charge in October, court records show. He also pleaded guilty to driving with a measurable controlled substance in his body, a class B misdemeanor, in May 2014.

Email: blockhart@deseretnews.com

Twitter: benlockhartnews