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Suspect in West Jordan shooting was state corrections officer, member of Utah National Guard

Posted at 9:41 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-19 00:53:48-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah — A man was shot and killed by police after he held a woman against her will and triggered multiple police pursuits throughout Salt Lake County Thursday. A K9 officer was also killed during the incident that ended late Thursday in West Jordan.

The original incident happened Thursday at 11 a.m. in West Jordan when police received a report that a woman was being held against her will by a man with a handgun.

Police identified the man as Zachary Tyler Alvarenga.

According to the Utah Department of Corrections, Alvarenga was a corrections officer, although it is not known whether he was still employed with the department at the time of the shooting. Police say the woman and Alvarenga were prior coworkers.

The Utah National Guard also released a statement acknowledging Alvarenga was a soldier who had joined the Guard in 2019. It said he was a parachute rigger assigned to Alpha Company, Group Support Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group.

"We are devastated to hear that one of our Soldiers was involved in this tragic incident," said Col. Paul Peters, commander of the 19th Special Forces Group. "Our condolences go out to Alvarenga's family, to Maya's handler, to the victims who were immediately impacted, and to all others who have been affected. We will be providing counseling and other necessary support services to our Soldiers. These kinds of horrible events affect us all."

The statement said the Guard supports the efforts of local authorities throughout this ongoing investigation.

At some point, the woman was able to break free from Alvarenga, and he began to chase her. Officers found the vehicle he was driving near Jordan Landing, where a vehicle chase started. Due to safety reasons and the traffic in the area, the pursuit was discontinued.

A little while later, Alvarenga was located again and a second pursuit was initiated. Again, due to safety reasons, that pursuit was discontinued.

While investigators were trying to track down Alvarenga, they learned he had contacted the woman's relatives and had threatened them with a handgun, West Jordan Police report.

Eventually, investigators were able to call the Alvarenga's cell phone and try to negotiate his surrender, which was not successful and a third police pursuit was initiated.

Officers spiked the Alvarenga's tires during the pursuit and he exited the car and began to run away while carrying the handgun.

Near 11400 S. Redwood Road in South Jordan, officers shot Alvarenga and he died of his injuries at the scene. Officers from the West Jordan Police Department, South Jordan Police Department and Unified Police Department were involved in the shooting, although it's unclear how many officers actually fired shots at the suspect.

Maya 1.jpg
West Jordan Police K9 Officer Maya is pictured here during a training exercise.

At some point during the incident, K-9 Maya, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois was hit with bullets. Officials are still investigating whether Maya was struck by Alvarenga's bullets, or if she was hit by friendly fire.