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Bountiful gang member charged with shooting 7-Eleven clerk

By Dennis Romboy | Posted - Jun. 23, 2011 at 8:21 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY — Drops of blood on a pair of gym shoes led prosecutors to file charges against a Bountiful gang member suspected of shooting a 7-Eleven clerk in the face during a robbery last week.

Siosaia Takai, 19, was charged in federal court Thursday with two counts of robbery and brandishing and discharging a firearm during a violent crime. He made a brief appearance before U.S. District magistrate judge who scheduled another hearing for next Thursday. He is being held in the Salt Lake County Jail.

A member of the Tongan Crips Gang who goes by the name "Spin," Takai admitted in an interview Wednesday with Salt Lake police and the FBI to robbing the convenience store and shooting the clerk June 15, according to court documents. He also allegedly admitted to robbing Dick's Market in Bountiful on June 2.

"We're very happy Mr. Takai is off the street," said Salt Lake police detective Mike Hamideh. "We consider him to be a very violent and dangerous man."

A masked gunman entered 7-Eleven, 483 S. Redwood Road, where he emptied three cash registers and took the clerk into a back room to either make him shut off or erase the store's surveillance cameras. At some point, he shot the 44-year-old clerk in the face with a 9mm handgun, according to police. The clerk was taken to a local hospital in critical condition but is expected to survive.

Hamideh said the clerk complied with all of the gunman's demands. "He did everything he was supposed to do and he still got shot in the face," he said. "There was no reason for this at all."

Acting on a tip, police obtained a search warrant last week for Takai's Bountiful home where they found blue Converse All Star shoes that appeared to have drops of blood on them, according to court documents. The state crime lab determined the DNA on the shoes matched the DNA of the shooting victim.

Surveillance video collected from nearby stores showed a man riding a bicycle in the area about the time of the shooting. Police released a photo of the bike rider and still want to question him, Hamideh said.

Thursday's charges came as result of Salt Lake police working with the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force. FBI spokeswoman Debbie Dujanovic said authorities decided to file charges in federal court instead of state court because the crime meets the criteria for a federal case.

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