Two MPs were injured – shot in one eye and the other in the face – after “some sort of altercation” outside the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff said.
Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the deputy who was shot in the face was in stable condition and the other was in critical condition.
The shooter was dead but Sheriff Rivera did not specify how he died. She said the altercation took place on a grassy area outside the office, where it‘s common to find people sleeping or waiting for a bus.
The two MPs were carrying out a routine security check around the campus when they saw the gunman, who was armed, Sheriff Rivera said.
“We don’t know if he was asleep or not, but something happened to get their attention to go talk to him, and then it happened very quickly,” Sheriff Rivera said, adding that MPs and the man had exchanged shots.
“These types of incidents are really devastating for the department, and we hope and pray that our deputies are doing well,” the sheriff said at a press conference. “The environment for law enforcement at this time is extremely dangerous.”
The two deputies had to survive their injuries. The stable deputy, whose cheek was grazed by a bullet, is expected to be released from the hospital shortly, the sheriff said.
“There’s quite a bit of damage to his face, but it’s consistent,” she added.
The critically ill deputy was expected to require surgery, Sheriff Rivera said.
Governor Spencer J. Cox of Utah said on twitter that he and his wife prayed for the deputies.
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson also offered her support to MPs and the Department on Twitter.
“My thoughts are with the Members of Parliament who were injured in a terrible shooting this morning,” Wilson said. “Our hearts and hopes go out to Members of Parliament and their families.”
The two deputies were part of a team overseeing campus security around the office and the Salt Lake County Metropolitan Jail, located in South Salt Lake, Sheriff Rivera said. The deputies and the shooter were not immediately identified, but the sheriff later said the suspect was male.
Sheriff Rivera said authorities plan to review the surveillance video, but MPs who work in the prison do not wear body cameras.
After the shooting, which occurred around 10:30 a.m. local time, Sheriff Rivera said the jail was closed. Some neighboring streets have also been closed.
“We have no indication that the prison is in danger at all,” she said, adding that lockdowns are standard protocol in such cases.
In a follow-up press conference, Sheriff Rivera said she was grateful the meeting took place on a Saturday when there were fewer employees on campus.
“This is our workplace,” she says. “This is our home of work, and it has hit close to home.”
Peer support teams were on hand to help county employees and families of those involved, and nearby police departments were also offering help, the sheriff said.
“It’s just shocking,” she said. “We are a strong family, and we will make it happen. It’s just difficult for all of us right now.
Sheriff Rivera said she has been in contact with the governor’s office and the mayor’s office, and added that multiple police departments have reached out to show support.