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Salt Lake police identify man shot and killed by police outside downtown grocery store

Police initially called to knife fight but find man holding knife and ‘stepped in to save a life’

SHARE Salt Lake police identify man shot and killed by police outside downtown grocery store
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A law enforcement officer places an evidence placard next to what appears to be a shell casing after Salt Lake City police officers shot and killed a man on 500 South in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake police responding to a report of a knife fight between two men outside a downtown grocery store Saturday morning found an even more serious situation, which ended with officers shooting and killing one of the men.

“Preliminary information is that it was a hostage situation,” said Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking. “And officers stepped in to save a life.”

Two officers arrived at Smith’s, 450 S. 500 East, to respond to the fight about 9:30 a.m. They found two men who were leaving the store fighting “possibly with a knife involved,” Wilking said.

The men moved up the street onto the sidewalk at 500 South.

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Law enforcement officers set up a shade to place over the body of a man shot and killed by Salt Lake City police officers on 500 South in Salt Lake City on Saturday morning. A police spokesman said two officers responded to a call of a knife fight between two men that resulted in the officers shooting and killing one of the men.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

“Indications are that there quickly became a situation involving perhaps a hostage. ... Our officers engaged this individual that was taking the hostage and fired their service weapons, striking that individual. And then they began immediately rendering aid to that individual. It’s a situation that our officers don’t want to be put in, but they’re there to defend life. And sometimes, in order to defend that life, they need to use force, and in this case it was deadly force,” Wilking said.

Police identified the man who was killed as Andrew Jacob Preece, age 34. According to court records, Preece has a number of felony and misdemeanor cases dating back to 2005.

Preece graduated from mental health court in March after he was charged with retail theft, a class A misdemeanor. The charge was amended to a class b misdemeanor upon his completion of mental health court.

Neither officer was injured in Saturday’s incident.

They were both wearing body cameras, but Wilking did not immediately know if both cameras were activated at the time. Police were also searching for video footage from the area.

The men had been together in the store when they began fighting, Wilking said, but their relationship was not known Saturday. Witnesses inside the store reported seeing the fight break out and noticing a knife.

A knife was found on scene, but Wilking said police did not yet know whether it was the weapon used during the altercation.

The second man involved was being questioned by police.

When officers are called to a situation that’s been reported as potentially violent, it doesn’t necessarily change the way they prepare to respond, Lt. Brett Olsen said.

“We always hope for the best, but we’re prepared for the worst. And so there’s numerous times we respond to calls like that where it’s really nothing. And so I think officers, they take everything for what they see. And in this situation, when they responded, they were met with two individuals that were involved in an altercation with a knife,” according to Olsen.

“And so their response as they arrived was obviously a little bit different, but in preparing to go to the call or in responding to the call, I don’t think it was any different, which was exactly why we just had two officers responding,” Olsen said.

When asked whether the use of nonlethal force could’ve been used, Olsen said “less lethal are always an option, but when it comes to a deadly force situation, if somebody’s life is being threatened in this case with a knife, officers are going to take the appropriate action.”

A team from the West Valley Police Department will investigate the incident as part of officer-involved critical incident protocols.

Contributing: Marjorie Cortez

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Law enforcement officers work the scene after Salt Lake City police officers shot and killed a man on 500 South in Salt Lake City on Saturday morning. A police spokesman said two officers responded to a call of a knife fight between two men that resulted in the officers shooting and killing one of the men.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News