Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera has never seen anything like it before in her career.
On Monday, a 4-year-old boy tried to shoot two Unified police officers who were taking his father into custody, allegedly because the father had told him to.
Fortunately, an officer who saw the gun not only was able to push the barrel away from the direction of officers just as the gun was fired, but also recognized that the person holding it was a child and did not return fire.
Rivera called the officer a "hero" for reacting to the situation the way he did, saying that he "saved a life."
"In my opinion, our officers did an amazing job because they could have fired back not knowing who was in that vehicle," Rivera said.
The wild scenario played out at a McDonald's in Midvale, 425 W. 7200 South, Monday at about 1:30 p.m. A man went through the drive-thru and placed an order, but when he picked up his food at the window, his order allegedly wasn't correct and the man became angry, according to Unified police.
"They told him that they would fix his order. At that time, we believe he brandished a firearm," said Rivera.
Employees told the man to pull around to the side and they would bring him the correct order. But as he was waiting, they called police instead.
When officers arrived, the man was not compliant with police commands to get out of his car, so officers — knowing that he had already brandished a firearm — attempted to pull him out as quickly as they could, the sheriff said. As the officers took the man into custody, one of the officers noticed a firearm coming from the backseat of the car.
The officer pushed the gun out of the way and a shot went off almost simultaneously. That officer suffered a minor injury on his arm from the "blast" of the gun being fired, but was not struck by the bullet, which ended up in the awning above the restaurant, the sheriff stated.
"This is a sad day for us, because the person that pulled that trigger is 4-years old," Rivera said. "Just think of the gravity of that. A 4-year-old was told, we believe, by the father, to pull the trigger and shoot a police officer. Thank God the officer was able to deflect (the gun)."
The officer then recognized that the person holding the gun was a child and yelled "kid, kid kid!" to his partner so the other officer would not return fire.
The father, whose name was not immediately released, was still being questioned by detectives Monday afternoon. The boy and his younger sister, who was also in the backseat, were handed over to other family members.
While praising the job of her officers, Rivera also noted that considering anti-police sentiments across the nation, it was time for parents to teach their children to respect police officers.
"This campaign against police officers just needs to stop. We're here to protect and serve and this is getting out of hand. This is a child who thought it was OK to pull a firearm and shoot that firearm at police. I've never seen anything like this in my years of law enforcement. That's a tough one. Every officer that's here today just can't believe it. It's beyond belief."