SALT LAKE CITY — A family is grieving after a young mother was shot and killed outside a nightclub in downtown Salt Lake City over the weekend.
The woman was identified by her family as 29-year-old Nichole Olsen.
Allee Ortiz told FOX 13 News that Olsen was much more than her cousin.
"She was kind of just one of my big sisters," Ortiz said.
Ortiz said Olsen, who she affectionately calls Nikki, lived with her family for a short time. She said there was never a dull moment.
"Like just constant messing around, constant joking," said Ortiz. "She was extremely funny. She was protective. I would say she loved people with her whole heart."
Olsen's biggest love, Ortiz said, was being a devoted mother to her 10-year-old son.
"She took a lot of pride in that," Ortiz said. "Santino was literally her everything. With her being a single mom as well, like, that was her number one priority from the second she had him."
Ortiz said Saturday night was just a normal night for Olsen, as she went downtown to enjoy an evening out with her friends and boyfriend. But that fun night ultimately ended in tragedy.
"My mom had called me at like 5 or 6 a.m. to let me know, and I just didn't even have words," said Ortiz.
According to Salt Lake City Police, dispatchers received a call saying someone had been shot in the area of 300 S. West Temple at around 2 a.m.
As officers responded, they learned that someone had put the victim in a car and driven her to the University of Utah Hospital, where she later died.
A preliminary investigation reveals that the shooting occurred in the parking lot of a local nightclub. Prior to the shooting, employees of the club had asked several people to leave. While outside, the suspect got into an argument with Olsen's boyfriend prior to pulling out a gun and shooting her.
The suspect and others connected to the incident left the scene in an unknown vehicle.
"Just thinking that she's gone, it's just the feeling is just indescribable," said Ortiz.
Ortiz said she's also worried about how Olsen's son is handling everything.
"The night she left, he asked her, he begged her not to leave," she said. "He's like, 'Mom, I have a bad feeling, just don't go,' and she reassured him and said it's OK."
With her older sister, Shandy, dying a few years ago and now her cousin, Ortiz takes comfort in thinking and even hoping they are reunited once again.
"She's not alone up there. Being so young, I know they are together," she said.
Ortiz said there is a candlelight vigil planned to honor her cousin in downtown Salt Lake City where the shooting took place. It is slated to start at 6:30 p.m on Wednesday.
A GoFundMe was set up by the family to benefit Olsen's son as they plan a funeral.
The case is now being investigated by the SLCPD Homicide Squad. No arrests have been announced as of Monday night. The department ask anyone with any information to call 801-799-3000 and reference case number 22-229528.