14-year-old boy dies after overnight shooting in West Valley City

Posted at 7:39 AM, Aug 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 09:40:37-04

UPDATE: Police confirmed Thursday at 5:35 p.m. that the 14-year-old boy who was shot overnight has died.

Romeo Rodriguez. Image courtesy the Rodriguez family.

The deceased has now been identified as Romeo Rodriguez, a resident of Salt Lake City.

Fox 13 News will update this story as more details emerge.

Previous story continues below:

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - A teen was in the hospital Thursday in critical condition after he was shot in the face overnight.

Around 3:15 a.m. in the area of Kings Pointe Park in West Valley City, a 14-year-old was riding around in a vehicle with approximately four others; the teen was sitting in the passenger seat.

Somehow, he encountered the suspects and was shot in the face. Police said at least one gunshot was fired.

Police found out about the incident when they got a call from a hospital emergency room that the 14-year-old had been shot in the face, and was brought in by friends. Police said the suspects are still free.

“We’d like people to kind of reflect back and think if maybe they heard something or they saw something, not even just during the shooting but leading up to the shooting because any of that information might help us figure out exactly what happened," said Roxeanne Vainuku, a West Valley City Police Public Information Officer.

She said police are actively interviewing neighbors, the friends who brought the teen in, and possible witnesses. Police said nothing clearly indicates this incident was gang-related, and they are still investigating all possibilities.

Passersby, however, told Fox 13 they would not be surprised if it were gang-related.

One man said he heard multiple gangs are fighting over territory that includes Kings Pointe Park, and he is worried it may be true. Sarah Roberts shares that feeling; she lives in a nearby neighborhood.

“It makes me really sad that multiple kids are getting injured or are in gang activity," she said. "I hate it honestly. It makes me so sad."

Roberts recalled memories of going to the park as a kid with friends. She said as she has gotten older, she has seen her area become less and less safe. She remembered reading stories about shootings, murders, and home invasions, all within walking distance from her home.

She said Thursday's incident is another "nail in the coffin" for her moving out of her hometown.

“It’s crazy, like, I can’t believe how bad this place has gotten since I grew up here," she said.

Anyone with information is asked to call West Valley City Police.