Charges filed, new details released in West Valley City shooting

Posted at 1:31 PM, Jan 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-27 00:21:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Charges were filed Wednesday against the teen suspect accused of killing two Hunter High School classmates and injuring another.

WATCH: Students from across Salt Lake area honor shooting victims in emotional video

During an online hearing, the 14-year-old suspect was charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of felony discharge of a weapon, and one count each of obstructing justice, possession of a weapon on school grounds and possession of a weapon by a minor.

The suspect will still currently be charged as a juvenile and not an adult, but that could change.

In addition to the charges, a request to release the suspect to the custody of his family was denied.

Charges filed, new details released in West Valley City shooting

Judge Mark May set an arraignment for the suspect on March 3.

The suspect, whom FOX 13 is not naming, is accused of shooting three boys on Jan. 13 following a confrontation outside Hunter High School.

In new court documents, the suspect told detectives that "he and his group of friends had been harassed by a group of Tongan males at school," and that the two groups walked away from school grounds where a fight started. The suspect added that he began shooting into a crowd before running away and throwing the gun into a residential yard, where it was located the same day.

A witness told police that he and his friends, including the suspect, had been "involved in a dispute for more than a year with a group that included the deceased males." The witness admitted that he carried a gun to school because the rival group had threatened him the previous day, saying he would be beaten up if he returned to school.

During the fight, the witness ran away after hearing gunshots and threw his own loaded 9mm weapon into a ditch.

Both the suspect and the witness were taken into custody after the shooting, although the witness was later released.

READ: How to help families of West Valley City shooting victims

Tivani Lopati, 14, and Paul Tahi, 15, were killed in the shooting, while Ephraim Asiata, 15, was critically wounded and is still hospitalized.