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2 deputies shot, wounded outside Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office

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SALT LAKE CITY  — Two Salt Lake County Sheriff’s deputies and one suspect were involved in a shoot-out Saturday morning outside of the jail.

Deputy Joshua Buerke and Deputy Leland Grossett were performing routine perimeter security of the jail when they came upon the shooter in a grassy area by the sheriff’s office parking lot at 10:29 a.m.

The suspect, 31-year-old Joshua Michael Johnson, was shot and killed. It is not known what led to the shooting.

Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera initially said the Johnson was approximately 30 years old, possibly Hispanic, and may have been a transient before his identity was known. She also added that the jail was put on lockdown.

Both deputies were taken to the hospital. Rivera said in a press conference that the two officers injured are part of campus security.

Both deputies were shot in the head area, Rivera said. Grossett was shot in the eye and is in critical condition. He remained in the hospital and had surgery but did lose his eye. Buerke received a facial injury when a bullet grazed his cheek. He was treated and released from the hospital.

Grossett’s family issued a statement on Sunday that read:

We appreciate the support of the community and for everyone that has reached out in support of our family at this time. Leland underwent surgery yesterday and lost his eye due to his injury. He is doing well and has been moved out of the ICU today. We are thankful that he is alive and looking forward to bringing him home soon.

Leland’s team is amazing. We know that the outcome of this shooting could have been different if it weren’t for the team’s quick response. We are also grateful for his partner Deputy Joshua Buerke and are relieved to hear that he is home recovering from his injuries.

One man’s life was lost in this shooting and we want to express our condolences to his family. We hope they are able to find peace and know that we harbor no ill will.

Right now Leland’s recovery is our biggest priority. We want to thank the media, community, and other well-wishers in advance for supporting Leland’s recovery by respecting our privacy.

Rivera also said in a prepared statement:

The job of law enforcement is becoming more and more dangerous. I am grateful to have deputies like these who are willing to put their lives on the line in the name of public safety.

The names of the two deputies were not immediately released Saturday because some immediate family members have not been located.

“These types of incidents are really devastating for the department,” said Rivera in the conference. “We hope and we pray that our deputies will be OK.”

The Officer-Involved Critical Incident protocol has been initiated following the securing of the scene. Protocol Team 4 is conducting the investigation.

The sheriff’s office peer support team is helping sheriff office members cope with the shooting.

“It is devastating any time something like this happens,” Rivera said. “I ask the community to join me in keeping these deputies in our thoughts and prayers.”

She followed that statement up Sunday with an additional prepared statement:

I want to thank the public for their outpouring of support and well wishes for our deputies. We ask that the public and media respect the privacy of our deputies and their families during this difficult time.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown expressed his condolences to the families of the deputies on social media. He said:

Our condolences go out to the Salt Lake County officers and their families. Keep your head on a swivel and stay safe out there.

Sen. Mitt Romney posted on Twitter also echoing Rivera’s sentiment saying:

Ann’s and my hearts are heavy with reports of two Salt Lake County deputies shot and hospitalized. We join them and their families in prayer and hope.

The last deputy killed in the line of duty was in 1994. Deputy Michael S. Welcker was killed by a prison parolee wanted for questioning in an assault. Officers went to a Taylorsville apartment where they believed the man was hiding. As they attempted to pick the lock, the man fired through the door with a 9mm pistol. Welcker, 40, was struck outside the panel of his body armor and died a few minutes later.

Provo Police sent its “prayers and support” in a Tweet.

Draper City also used social media to express its support of the deputies and the sheriff’s office stating in part, “We hope they will make a full recovery.”

 

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