MILLCREEK -- A heavily-armed man opened fire at an apartment complex Friday afternoon, sending people running for cover before he was shot and killed by police.
Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies say 64-year-old George Huntzinger stepped out of his apartment on the third floor and fired a shotgun blast at a maintenance man at the Cottonwood Apartments, located near 1000 East and 4700 South.
Jessica Miller was at home when the maintenance worker ran for cover inside her apartment. Then, not knowing how close they still were to danger, a bullet skimmed by them.
"It went through my wall," Miller said. "We hit the ground immediately and went into the bathroom that was closest, furthest away from the wall. We were there for 15 minutes. A second one went through my window."
Others heard the gunfire. "There was four before police got here," said Layne Hirst, who lives nearby. "There was more after that and I just lost count."
Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder told KSL NewsRadio that deputies responded quickly to the scene to confront Huntzinger, whom he described as "heavily armed."
Members of the metro SWAT team responded and a negotiator tried to talk to Huntzinger. He told the negotiator he had hostages bound and gagged and that he'd confront police if he needed to. The first statement was not true; the second was.
"He was very specific that this was going to end badly, and that if he had the opportunity he was going to kill people," Winder said.
When Huntzinger emerged on his third-floor balcony, he turned what looked like a shotgun on deputies. A SWAT then team member shot and killed him. Investigators said another deputy may have also taken a shot, although it is unclear how many officers actually fired upon Huntzinger. Paramedics pronounced Huntzinger dead on scene.
The entire thing lasted nearly a half-hour, authorities said. Residents in this apartment complex were evacuated. Like Miller, many hid inside their homes.
"We just went into the bathroom to hide in the bathtub," said 8-year-old Josh Parker, who was staying at his grandmother's.
"Nobody knew what was going on. I didn't know what was going on until I was looking around and I finally saw somebody come out, and I was like, 'There's definitely something going on here.' It was loud too. I mean, definitely a high-powered gun," Hirst said.
Alex Fullmer's mother told him that he had taken a shot at her. She was too shaken up to speak about it directly. "The guy was out on his balcony shooting," he said, repeating what she was telling him over the phone to a KSL NewsRadio reporter.
"We estimate that during the course of this response, the individual fired a minimum of eight to 12 rounds. We're still in the process of counting them," Winder said.
We're told Huntzinger was going through a divorce and had only lived in the apartment for about a month. Authorities had dealt with him in the past on a domestic violence incident where firearms were involved.