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Questions remain in officer-involved shooting death

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Mar 20th, 2013 @ 6:01pm

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SALT LAKE CITY — Investigators on Wednesday identified the man who was shot and killed by police.

But questions remain unanswered about why the man — whom police weren't even looking for — allegedly opened fire on them.

Ronnie Manuel Ontiveros, 37, was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon after police say he first fired at members of the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team. Members of JCAT were looking for a man wanted on parole violations when they came across Ontiveros outside the residence at 1149 S. Foulger St. (35 East).

For an unknown reason, Ontiveros fired at the officers, who reportedly had clearly identified themselves. At least a dozen officers in full tactical gear walked up to the house. Five JCAT officers reportedly returned fire. Ontiveros was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Salt Lake police were notified of what was happening after the shots were fired and they assisted JCAT with the rest of their operation. Two women and two men came out of the house and garage. Two of them — James McIff, 30, and Amber Zinda, 34 — were arrested.

McIff, the man JCAT was originally looking for, was sent to the Utah State Prison on a parole violation. Zinda, also known as Amber Gray, was arrested for investigation of drug possession and failure to stop at the command of police.

Why Ontiveros opened fire on officers was something still being investigated Wednesday, Salt Lake Police Sgt. Shawn Josephson said. A young boy told KUTV that the man had previously pointed a gun at him before JCAT arrived. Josephson could not confirm the incident Wednesday but said it was being investigated.

In 2011, Ontiveros was convicted of felony forgery and sentenced to up to five years in the Utah State Prison, according to state court records. In 2001, he was found guilty of burglary, a first-degree felony, and sentenced to five years to life in prison. He was also found guilty of lewdness and intoxication in 2012, both misdemeanors.

McIff has a long criminal history, including several stays at the Utah State Prison. He has been in and out of prison since 2001, being paroled four times and being sent back on a parole violation each time. He was last paroled in April of 2012.

In 2010, McIff pleaded guilty to failing to follow the commands of a police officer, a third-degree felony. He was also convicted of simple assault in 2009. Other prison sentences were handed down for a 2008 conviction on felony drug possession and a felony robbery conviction in 2001.

Zinda was charged with felony drug distribution in 3rd District Court in January. A warrant was issued for her arrest when she failed to show up for a hearing last week.


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