KEARNS, Utah — The man arrested in connection with the murder of a Magna mother of two is a former high school football coach.
Jason Alan Black, 26, was a wide receivers coach with the Kearns High School football team for the past few seasons before resigning last month.
“Of course I’m shocked, I know that my son worked with him and had a connection with him,” said football dad Elias McGraw.
McGraw’s son Braxton has played on the Kearns football team for the past two seasons. Braxton said Black was well liked and cared about the players on and off the field.
“He acted like us, like a teenager, like he was like us,” Braxton said. “He’d talk to you about personal things and how you’re doing and how’s your life doing.”
According to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Black went into Natalia Casagrande’s home on Tuesday and brutally murdered her while her daughters, ages 1 and 5, were inside.
“Mr. Black did know the victim and her husband and had gone to the home, and we believe was engaged in some felonious activity, not sure what that activity was, but something went wrong,” Sheriff Jim Winder said.
Based on tips, police officers went to Black’s parents’ South Jordan home looking for evidence, but, when they arrived, they realized their suspect was inside.
“We located him in the hallway of the home, Mr. Black brandished a firearm,” Winder said. “Mr. Black was struck several times by gunfire from our officers. Mr. Black was then transported to a local hospital where he is in serious but stable condition.”
Police also arrested the alleged get-away-driver, 24-year-old Estephania Sanchez-Mendoza, at her home in West Jordan. She has been charged with aggravated robbery and obstruction of justice.
“We believe that Ms. Mendoza was facilitating at least the flight and concealment both of Mr. Black and potentially of evidence,” Winder said.
As for the Kearns football family, Braxton and his father will continue to support their coach.
“I don’t see him doing something like that, and he was just a great guy and just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Braxton said. “I believe he’s innocent.”