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Why police didn’t respond to noise complaints before Lowe shooting

Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-27 20:13:19-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As loved ones reflect on the life Aaron Lowe lived, many wonder if his death could have been prevented had police responded sooner.

Lowe, 21, was shot and killed early Sunday morning outside a party in the Sugar House neighborhood.

"Aaron was the type of kid we'd want to have as our son. I’ve been teaching for 22 years and Aaron is one of the best students we've had in a long time,” said Ryan Burke, his former high school teacher.

Ryan Burke, who taught Aaron theater at West Mesquite High School, says the community is absolutely devastated to lose Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan in less than a year.

Both took a theater class, and both made a big impact.

WATCH: Aaron Lowe’s mom describes son as ‘good kid’ who was ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’

Now, questions are pointing to the timeline of calls made the night of the shooting.

“Noise complaints are something that we’ve always responded to," said Brent Weisberg, a spokesperson for the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Weisberg says they received six phone calls about noise complaints on Saturday night around 10:30 p.m.

Still, police did not show up, as they were responding to higher priority calls.

“As they can respond to those noise complaints, they do. But our number one focus is on those in-progress emergencies,” said Weisberg.

Several hours later, police showed up, but only after it got violent.

READ: Witness describes fatal SLC shooting of Lowe, wishes police arrived sooner

Police confirm at least one officer was on scene once the weapons call was made and before the call of the gunshots. However, they were staged nearby, waiting for backup.

“The second that this noise complaint elevated to a fight with a weapon, it was immediately dispatched. It was elevated to an in-progress emergency,” said Weisberg.

In the past, police have had dedicated patrol to focus on noise complaints. These are usually overtime shifts.

However, this year, due to funding challenges, they did not activate those patrols.

Still, police say those are only used during the summer months, so it would have not made a difference in this incident.

Right now, there are 51 vacancies in the department. There are 518 officers, and they are authorized to staff a total of 569.

This is an improvement from back in May, when the department was short nearly 80 officers.

Police say they are on the higher end when it comes to officer vacancies, but they have at least 20 officers in field training at the moment.