Violence erupts at ‘WestFest’ festival in West Valley City

Posted at 10:40 PM, Jun 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-17 17:29:43-04

UPDATE:  Police responded to three violent incidents at WestFest Friday night.

During the first altercation, three male were stabbed.  One of them was stabbed in the chest and transported to the hospital in critical condition.  Another man was transported to the hospital in stable condition for, after being stabbed in the back.  A third man was treated for cut wounds on his hands and forearms.  All three victims are in their late 20s.  West Valley Police are still looking for the suspects involved in this case.

A second fight broke out within that same crowd.  40-year-old George Tautuaa was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for assault.  A juvenile in the same crowd, but not connected to the original incident was also taken into custody and booked for inciting a riot and assault.

In a third incident, officers were forced to use pepper spray to break the fight between  two juveniles.   They were both arrested, but later released.  Charges are pending investigation.

The West Valley Police Department will have one dozen extra duty police officers, including personnel from other Salt Lake County law enforcement entities, to patrol the event.

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — Police responded to two violent incidents at WestFest Friday night, and three people were taken to a hospital after a stabbing while two juveniles are in custody in connection with a fight officers broke up by deploying pepper spray.

Sgt. Robert Brincon of the West Valley City Police Department said officers responded to two separate incidents at WestFest Friday night. Fox 13 News first heard reports of the disturbances around 9:20 p.m.

West Fest is an annual festival in West Valley City held at Centennial Park, 5415 West 3100 South.

The first incident was an altercation at the baseball fields involving individuals police believe to be members of a Polynesian gang. While it’s not clear exactly what happened, three people were taken to a hospital.

One person was transported in critical condition after being stabbed in the side, a second person was transported in serious condition after being stabbed in the back, and a third person was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

Police believe the stabbings were gang related, but they do not have any suspects in custody at this time and no further details about the motive for the altercation were available.

About 100 feet away from the incident at the baseball fields, a fight broke out in a parking lot around the same time. Police believe the individuals involved in the altercation are members of two rival gangs, and they say the fight may have been in “retaliation” to a stabbing that occurred near Valley Fair Mall earlier in the day. 

Officers responded to the group fighting in the parking lot and tried to break up the fight. Brincon said police could not get the suspects to stop fighting at first and ultimately deployed pepper spray to break up the brawl.

Two juveniles were taken into custody in connection with the fight. There were no serious injuries reported, but several of those involved were given treatment for their exposure to pepper spray.

The parties involved have not been identified. The two incidents do not appear to be related. Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.