Gene Kennedy ReportingThere were no major problems with illegal fireworks in Salt Lake City last night, instead, police were dealing with violence.
Police had to taser a man who wouldn't calm down. Another officer trying to stop a fight got punched in the face. And then there was the gang activity.
Just a few blocks from Liberty Park and moments after the fireworks show, several people were handcuffed, some of them gang members, according to police. Officers say they made some minor drug arrests, but the incident is a small part of a bigger picture: violence on a holiday and not far from where the public is celebrating.
Salt Lake Police detective Jared Wihongi said, "Anytime we have large public gatherings, the 4th or the 24th, large events going on, there's always people having a good time, but also people who show up just to cause trouble."
They're gang members who want to take part in social activity, but police say it can easily lead to problems.
"These dates in particular we see a rise in gang activity just because of the interaction these gang members have with rival gangs."
That was the problem later in the evening, just before midnight at a McDonald's on South State Street. Two men were standing in the parking lot when a red four-door sedan rounded the corner and opened fire. The victims are expected to recover. Police say they're involved in gangs and investigators think the shooting may have been gang retaliation.
Police lieutenant Dave Cracroft said, "It's unfortunate. We have people celebrating the holiday and having a good time, and they decide to end it this way."
It's certainly unfortunate that it occurs close to where people are trying to have a good time. Police beef up their presence at all these parades but, despite that, violence is inevitable. The best advice from authorities is to head home when the fireworks are over. Most of the gang violence occurs later at night.