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Veteran officers stunned that 4-year-old shot at police on father's order

Posted at 9:52 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 09:16:19-05

MIDVALE, Utah — Police said a 4-year-old child fired a gun at officers on the order of their father Monday at a McDonald's in Midvale.

According to the Unified Police Department, the incident occurred at 425 West 7200 South. A man identified as Sadaat Johnson, 27, in a Honda allegedly brandished a gun at restaurant drive-thru workers after they gave him an incorrect order.

The workers called police after telling Johnson they would fix his order.

When police arrived, they were able to locate and remove Johnson from the vehicle. However, once Johnson was outside, an officer noticed "a firearm coming outside the vehicle," according to UPD Sheriff Rosie Rivera. The officer was able to deflect the weapon, which discharged into a restaurant awning.

“He’s a hero in my mind,” said Rivera. “He saved a life today.”

Police identified the person who discharged the weapon as a 4-year-old child who was allegedly told to fire the gun by their father. The child was in the backseat of the car with their three-year-old sibling.

“Every officer that’s here today just can’t believe it. We’re beyond belief that something like this could happen,” said Rivera.

Officers did not fire back after the child fired the weapon.

"This campaign against police officers, this needs to stop. We're here to protect and serve, and this is getting out of hand," said Rivera. "This is a child who thought it was okay to pull a firearm and shoot that firearm at police. I've never seen anything like this in my 28 years."

Although the officer was able to deflect the firearm, he did receive a small injury to his arm.

Johnson was taken into custody and faces charges of felony child abuse and threatening the use of a dangerous weapon.

Child and family psychologist Dr. Douglas Goldsmith said shootings like this are not common. He said children typically tend to react more timidly when seeing parents under arrest.

“They respond with fear. They respond with anxiety. They respond by crying. I have never seen a child try to harm or yell at or be angry with a policeman as retribution for arresting their parent,” he said.

Goldsmith said young children model what they see and what they’re taught at home.

“An older child may be able to take a moment to say, ‘I’m not going to be shooting the cops,’” he explained. “The four-year-old wouldn’t think, ‘This is a really bad choice.’ No. The child would think, ‘Daddy’s hurting. Daddy told me to do this. I’ll do it.’”

Investigators are working with the Division of Child and Family Services to make sure the four-year-old and three-year-old are in safe hands.