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3 men stabbed in fight during WestFest celebrations

Police officers survey WestFest on June 16, 2017. Three men were hospitalized Friday after suffering stab wounds at the city's WestFest celebration.
Police officers survey WestFest on June 16, 2017. Three men were hospitalized Friday after suffering stab wounds at the city's WestFest celebration.
Ray Boone, KSL TV

WEST VALLEY CITY — Three men were hospitalized Friday after suffering stab wounds at the city's WestFest celebration.

About 9:30 p.m., officers received reports of a gathering crowd and a series of fights at the event at Centennial Park, 5355 W. 3100 South. Between 30 and 50 people were involved in the fight and three people were stabbed during the melee.

One man was stabbed in the chest and was hospitalized in critical condition, said West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku. One man was stabbed in the back and another suffered wounds to his hands and forearms. They were also taken to a hospital.

Updated conditions of the men as well as their ages were not available Saturday, but Vainuku said all three victims are in their late teens to early 20s.

"Following this assault, additional officers responded to assist with crowd control and to help break up the fight," she said in a prepared statement. Those responsible for the stabbings could not be located and no arrests were made in connection with that fight.

However, a second fight broke out as officers responded to investigate the first fight and stabbings. Officers used pepper spray to help break up that fight, according to Vainuku.

George Tautuaa, 40, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of assault. Two teenagers were taken into custody and later released. Vainuku said they would be referred to juvenile court for potential charges.

Another teenager, age unknown, was booked into juvenile detention for investigation of inciting a riot and assault stemming from a separate incident.

West Valley Police Sgt. Robert Brinton said the second fight was believed to be gang-related and possibly involved retaliation for an earlier stabbing of a teenager that occurred outside the Valley Fair Mall Friday afternoon.

West Valley City's annual celebration commemorates the establishment of the city and recognizes its citizens' various cultural backgrounds, according to the WestFest website. The event, which began Thursday and ends Sunday, features carnival rides and games, music, movies, multicultural entertainment, demonstrations, fireworks and more.

"WestFest is a fun, community tradition that is enjoyed by many families and individuals in our city. We are disappointed that an episode of violence marred last night’s festivities, however, the safety of the visitors to this festival is a top priority for our police department," Vainuku said.

"As such, we have one dozen extra duty police officers assigned specifically to ensure safety and security at this event. … WestFest will be closely monitored to ensure that it remains an event that is safe for all to enjoy."