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Piute High student shot and killed; 17-year-old boy arrested

SHARE Piute High student shot and killed; 17-year-old boy arrested
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A 16-year-old girl, a student at Piute High School in Junction was shot and killed Sunday. Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy in connection with her death.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

A 16-year-old Piute High School student was shot and killed Sunday and a 17-year-old boy was arrested in connection with her death following a high-speed chase with police.

Deputies from the Piute County Sheriff's Office responded just before 10 p.m. to a report of shots fired on Doc Springs Road about four miles north of Circleville. Approximately 15 minutes later, the body of a 16-year-old girl who was shot to death was found near a dirt road, according to a statement released Monday by the sheriff's office.

Deputies issued an attempt-to-locate bulletin to deputies and nearby agencies to look for a blue Ford Ranger. The statement did not say how deputies knew to look for that vehicle.

Just after 11 p.m., a Sevier County sheriff's deputy spotted the vehicle near Glenwood, Sevier County, about 60 miles from Circleville.

"As the deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, the driver fled, leading officers in a high-speed chase, which ended near Salina," according to the sheriff's office.

A 17-year-old boy was arrested without further incident. The sheriff's office says the boy has since been charged in 6th District Juvenile Court with aggravated murder, but added that Piute County Attorney Scott Burns is considering whether to "direct file" on the teen, meaning his case would be moved into the adult system.

The name of the girl, a sophomore at Piute High School, has not yet been released pending notification of family members. On social media, relatives who have already been told about the tragic incident posted messages of tribute.

"You were our baby, the youngest one yet the bravest one. I can't put into words everything I want to say to you. I know you're safe now, I hope you are living it up there with grandma and grandpa and all the fur babies. Don't worry about the fur babies down here, it's our turn to care for them," one woman posted while expressing the sadness and "numbness" she feels.

"Thank you for always being my ray of sunshine. I am going to miss your presence every second of everyday. Keep an eye on us from up there, I can't wait to see you again. Remember you are so love little baby.

"We appreciate all the love and support but the details are too much to [bear] at this point. As for her killer, we hope the law falls as hard as possible on you and then some," the post concluded.

Another relative posted, "Last night was the worst day of my entire existence. ... I am hurting beyond words. I am feeling a level of pain I never knew existed.

"I wish this were all a horrible nightmare, but it's not. And you are gone, forever," the message continued. "Please hug your loved ones. What I would give to tell you I love you and give you one last hug."

Piute Sheriff Marty Gleave said his county is "devastated."

"We are a small county, and everyone knows this victim and her family," he said in a statement. "Murders don't happen where we live and so, as you can appreciate, everyone from Piute High School students, faculty and staff to friends and neighbors (are) in shock and reeling from this tragedy."

Monday morning, the Piute School District issued a statement saying their hearts and thoughts are with the girl's family. They also notified parents and students that counselors would be available at school all week for those who needed to talk, but if parents chose to keep their children at home on Monday that their absences would be excused.