PROVO — A man who was allegedly assaulting a woman when he was shot by a passerby Monday night has died.
Provo police announced Tuesday that Jeremy Sorensen, 26, had succumbed to his injuries after being shot twice in the chest. The gunman, a man in his 20s, was not arrested and his name has not yet been released.
Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King said the case will be turned over to the Utah County Attorney's Office, which will decide whether or not to file criminal charges against the gunman.
The incident happened just before 8 p.m. Monday when Sorensen and an 18-year-old woman were involved in a physical fight in the driveway of an apartment complex near 500 North and 200 East, police said. King described the two as "acquaintances" but did not know Tuesday how Sorensen and the woman knew each other or what started the fight.
The gunman, who police say did not know either Sorensen or the woman, was driving along 500 North when he apparently saw the fight and stopped next to the driveway.
"That person got out of his car and told Sorensen to stop fighting and warned him he would shoot. At some point the man in the vehicle produced a firearm and shot Sorensen twice," King said.
It was not immediately known how much time passed between the time that the man got out of the car and when he shot Sorensen.
Sorensen was taken to the hospital by emergency crews where he later died. The woman was also treated for injuries at the hospital and was later released. King said she suffered a concussion as well as injuries to her hip that were consistent with being repeatedly kicked or punched. The woman also had cuts all over her body and at least one bite mark, according to the sergeant.
Provo police detectives were still conducting interviews late Tuesday.
Defense attorney and former prosecutor Greg Skordas said Utah's self-defense law allows for the use of force, or deadly force, for not only a victim, but for anyone who sees someone else being assaulted.
"Our self-defense statute also includes defense of others and the language is virtually identical. And that is you can use force against force. But you can only use deadly force against deadly force," he said.
In other words, if a person reasonably believes that deadly force is being used against someone else and that person is at risk for suffering death or serious bodily injury, deadly force can be used. It's the same standard police officers are held to if they were to come upon a fight in progress, Skordas said.
According to Utah's self-defense law: "An individual is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the individual reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the individual or another individual as a result of imminent use of unlawful force or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
If a person is being slapped or hit with a piece of paper, deadly force would not be appropriate, Skordas said. But if a victim is being assaulted with a weapon, or being attacked in a way that could be seriously injured — even if the attacker does not have a weapon — deadly force could be justified.
Skordas added that a person is not required to ask what is happening or tell an attacker to stop before using deadly force, but "it's helpful and would be beneficial to the shooter.
"The warning would be an additional basis to show that he was trying to act reasonably, in my opinion," he said.
King described the gunman as being cooperative with investigators.
If anyone saw any part of Monday's incident, or has a home surveillance camera that may have recorded the incident, police are asking that they call 801-852-6338 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorensen pleaded no contest to assault in 2016. In that incident, Sorensen threw two pans of beans at a co-worker while working at Del Taco in Orem, according to a police affidavit. When he was stopped by police outside the restaurant, Sorensen resisted arrest and then later threatened hospital staff workers when he was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated.