Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SARATOGA SPRINGS — Investigators still aren't saying what prompted two Saratoga Springs police officers to shoot and kill a man Wednesday.
The victim was identified Thursday as Darrien Nathaniel Hunt, 22, of Saratoga Springs. He was walking in the area of Crossroads Boulevard and Redwood Road about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday when police were called on a report of a "suspicious person." Hunt had reportedly been walking around a group of businesses in that area, including a Panda Express restaurant on Redwood Road, a gas station, an auto parts store and a credit union, while carrying a samurai sword.
Hunt was shot near the restaurant. Neither city nor police officials have released any information about the confrontation that took place between Hunt and two Saratoga Springs police officers, including whether any words were exchanged or what prompted police to open fire.
Some witnesses told reporters the man seemed distressed while others say he appeared calm.
Differing descriptions from witnesses
Maya Herrera, who had stopped at the gas station to get a drink on her way to work, said she was frightened when she saw the sword the man was carrying, and she noticed that the man seemed scared.
"He looked pretty terrified. He was looking back over his shoulders and walking really fast," Herrera said. "It was a really long sword. It went from his shoulder to his hip."
"He wasn't talking to anybody at that point. We all kind of thought it was a weird situation," said Paul Cook, who said he saw the man as he wandered between the businesses.
But Natalie Christensen, who was driving past the area shortly before the shooting, said when she saw Hunt he didn't seemed stressed at all. She called her husband to tell him there was a man walking down the street wearing ear buds with a sword in a sheath strapped to his back. It was odd enough that she pulled over so she could take a picture of the man to send to her husband. Christensen said while Hunt definitely stood out, he didn't seem threatening.
"He was just walking nonchalantly, totally calm, really slow," she told KSL News. "He was totally calm, minding his own business. He smiled at me. Like he turned and smiled at me like he had no care in the world."
Eight minutes after she left the area, however, Christensen's husband called her back after hearing there had been police activity in that area.
"When I saw him, he was walking medium, he was not walking fast-paced, normally, acting totally cool," she said.
She guessed the sword was about 3 to 4 feet long.
Owen Jackson, spokesman for the city of Saratoga Springs, confirmed that investigators had recovered a samurai sword from the scene. The case, he said, is now being investigated by the Utah County Protocol Team led by the Utah County Attorney’s Office.
Clues from Facebook
Hunt's Facebook page says he was originally from Haymarket, Virginia, and attended Battlefield High School.
There are several recent short posts on his Facebook wall that seem to indicate he had been upset or distressed about something in the days leading up to Wednesday morning's confrontation.
"Believing that it's even possible to be cool with everybody is one of the dumbest things I have ever believed," he wrote on Aug. 21.
A post from Sunday states: "I am here for one person. I can manage my ego thanks for all the hurt (expletive)." A post from Monday states: "I'm fine with being alone. Not gonna let my girl die though." The last post on Hunt's Facebook wall was made just after 9 p.m. Tuesday: "I wanted to share my everything with her."
The confrontation with police happened about 12 hours later.