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Police arrest Kearns man in Salt Lake murder case

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Alex Christopher Mendoza Jr., 19, was arrested on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, for investigation of murder.

Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — Police have arrested a Kearns man accused of shooting and killing another man in Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood on Saturday.

Alex Christopher Mendoza Jr., 19, was booked into Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of murder and three counts felony discharge of a firearm.

Officers were called on a report of shots fired at 1172 W. California Ave. (1300 South) just before 2 a.m. Saturday. When officers arrived, they found Emilio Salazar, 28, of Salt Lake City, in the carport area of the home bleeding from the head, according to a police affidavit.

Three shell casings were also found in the area, police said.

Salazar was taken to Intermountain Medical Center, where he died seven hours later, the affidavit states.

“Detectives interviewed witnesses that were on scene and learned that the shooter was ‘Baby Alex’ Mendoza Jr.,” according to the affidavit.

Police say the witnesses know Mendoza, who is described as a documented Chiques gang member, and identified him through a photo shown to them during the interview.

“It should be noted that the interview took over four hours before the witness, who was terrified, was able to say the name ‘Baby Alex.’ ... The witness went against his/her own best interests to name Alex as the suspect which led detectives to believe that (the witness) was being truthful,” police wrote.

Officers found Mendoza at his home and took him into custody. He declined to speak with detectives.

A possible motive for the shooting has not been disclosed by police.

Police asked that he be held without bail because he “has been implicated in numerous shootings and weapons offenses, including homicides, and charged with violent felonies,” according to court documents.

“Witnesses identified him and are in fear for their lives having (identified him),” the affidavit states.

Police said they are still looking for the weapon used in the killing.

In 2019, Mendoza was charged with aggravated burglary, robbery and two counts of failing to stop at the command of police after allegedly taking away his girlfriend’s cellphone and breaking it, as well as threatening her brother, after she tried to break up with him, according to court records. He awaits trial on the charges of failing to stop at the command of police, but the rest of the charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning prosecutors could file them again if they choose.

Court records indicate prosecutors were unable to locate a witness or victim.

Mendoza was also charged in 2019 with obstructing justice, a class A misdemeanor, in connection with another case.