Intermountain Catholic: Diocese asks prayers in aftermath of mall killings
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (Intermountain Catholic) - In light of the terrible shootings in Trolley Square in Salt Lake City Feb. 12, which resulted in the death of six people, including the alleged shooter, and the wounding of at least four more victims, diocesan administrator Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald has called on the Catholics of the Diocese of Salt Lake City to unite in prayer for the victims, their families, and for the alleged shooter and his family.
“We pray for everyone who has been traumatized by this violent event, including the police officers involved, the rescue workers, Trolley Square employees, and all of the people who were in the mall at the time of the shootings,” said Msgr. Fitzgerald. “We do not know yet the identity of any of the victims or of the person who perpetrated this violence upon our city. I pray that we will draw strength from our faith and the faith of those around us as we reach out as a community of compassion and caring.
“We pray that the victims may receive the fullness of eternal life, that their families and friends receive comfort, and that our entire community may work together to achieve the healing that is so badly needed at this time.”
Terrified shoppers and diners at downtown Salt Lake City’s Trolley Square Mall were running for their lives and hiding under restaurant tables and in any nook, cranny, or closet they could find after an 18-year-old man went on a deadly shooting spree shortly after 6:40 p.m. Feb. 12.
Trolley Square, a quaint, 239,000-square-foot shopping center built around the city’s old trolley barns erupted with the sounds of gunfire, screaming, and people running for cover when the shooting began at a site outside the mall.
By the time the shooting stopped, six people lay dead, including the alleged shooter, and at least four people were seriously injured. An unknown number of shoppers, diners, and mall employees were being treated for minor injuries and shock on the scene while the more seriously injured were transported to the University of Utah medical Center, LDS Hospital, and Salt Lake Regional Medical Center.
From shortly after the shootings began, the mall was surrounded by layers of police cars and emergency vehicles from a number of law enforcement agencies, and ambulances from two companies. A triage area for the immediate treatment of victims was quickly set up in a corner of the mall parking lot. Laws enforcement officers searched every corner of the sprawling mall and were assisted by helicopters in searching the mall’s roof.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Robin Snyder, Salt Lake City Police Department spokeswoman, announced that the police had located one gunman, “and he is dead.”
Mary Mayo and her daughter JoAnne were just leaving the Spaghetti Factory, a restaurant on the upper level of Trolley Square, when they heard shots and saw the alleged shooter. Mayo is the wife of Diocesan Chancellor Deacon Silvio Mayo, and JoAnne is the twin sister of Cathedral of the Madeleine Rector Father Joseph M. Mayo.
“We had left the restaurant and were heading toward the stairs, when I pulled a program for an interfaith service I’d attended a few nights before,” said JoAnne. “We sat down on a bench to look at the brochure, and that’s when we heard the sound of breaking glass.”
The Mayos stepped to the railing and looked over the side to the bottom of the stairs they nearly walked down, and there was the gunman.
“We did not see a trenchcoat or a backpack, as others had seen,” Mary said. “He was wearing a white, button-down shirt and black pants, and he carried a gun, a rifle or a shotgun.”
The Mayos returned to the restaurant, taking cover first behind the hostess’ desk, then into an area shaped like a caboose.
“The staff of the Spaghetti Factory really should be commended,” said Mary. “They moved everyone upstairs to a safer place, and they locked the front gate to the restaurant. Some people were crying, and we were all scared, but they turned out the lights and did everything they could to keep us calm.”
The restaurant patrons and staff stood together in the dark for about 15 minutes before they heard someone tell them to leave the restaurant with their hands above their heads. It was the police.
JoAnne said law enforcement officials made a safe path for them down the stairs and out of the mall.
Because they had seen the gunman, the Mayos were asked not to leave the scene. They were given blankets to keep them warm and to ward off shock, and escorted into the HardRock Cafe, where police were taking statements.
“We told them what we saw and what we heard,” Mary said.
“We saw the man with the gun, but we didn’t see him shoot anyone, thank God,” JoAnne said. “We were blessed that we didn’t see any bodies or anyone who had been hurt.”
The morning of Feb. 13 found the city block around the mall still cordoned off with yellow police tape, and officers from several agencies sifting through the mall for further evidence. Numerous private cars belonging to Trolley Square customers, including the Mayos’ and workers were still impounded in the mall parking lot.
Two 28-year-old women, a 52-year-old man, a 24-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl were killed in the shooting spree, Snyder said.
Four people were hospitalized, including a 44-year-old woman and a 53-year-old man in critical condition, and a 34-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy in serious condition, she said.
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