String of Utah crimes involving teens raises tough questions

String of Utah crimes involving teens raises tough questions

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A series of violent crimes involving teenage suspects over the last two months is raising tough questions for Utah courts, police and parents.

Utah Criminal Justice Center Director Rob Butters says there's no connecting thread between the cases, which range from teens accused in a car chase that left a police officer dead to a student who police say stabbed five of his classmates in a school locker room.

He says youth violence is hard to predict and often involves suspects who don't have a history of crime. Butters recommends parents bring up and talk through high-profile events with their children. He says kids are influenced by what's going on around them and often have a wider exposure to media than adults realize.

Here's a look at the cases:

REHAB WORKER KILLED

A teenager from Arizona is accused of killing a counselor at a southern Utah ranch for troubled teens.

Investigators say 17-year-old Clay Brewer told police he lost his mind because he was addicted to pills, had attempted suicide and felt his parents didn't love him after they sent him to the ranch.

Charging documents say Brewer liked 61-year-old victim Jimmy Woolsey before attacking him with a metal stick on Dec. 6. A second staffer who was attacked survived.

The Associated Press does not typically name juvenile defendants, but Brewer has been charged as an adult.

GUN FIRED AT SCHOOL

Police say a 15-year-old brought two guns to school and fired a round into a classroom ceiling before his parents arrived and disarmed him, likely preventing bloodshed.

Prosecutors say he hid the shotgun and handgun under a long coat and also carried two boxes of ammunition to the school in Bountiful on Dec. 1. Investigators have said the teenager pointed the shotgun at his neck before his mother and father managed to bring him into a hallway and remove the weapons.

LOCKER ROOM STABBING

Five students in Orem were wounded when a classmate brought knives and long wooden sticks to school.

Police said the 16-year-old planned the Nov. 15 attack using videos he found on YouTube, and went to the locker room to find a large group of students. Police say he told officers he'd had suicidal and harmful thoughts since he was very young.

The teen has been charged as a juvenile with attempted murder.

POLICE OFFICER KILLED

Police say three teenagers were inside a stolen car that fatally struck a police officer who was trying to lay down tire-puncturing strips during a police chase.

The pre-dawn Nov. 6 chase started after an officer saw the car being stolen and tried to pull it over. Police haven't said whether they intentionally hit West Valley City police officer Cody Brotherson, 25.

Three males aged 14 and 15 were arrested after the car careened down an embankment and hit a fence.

SHOOTING OUTSIDE SCHOOL

A 14-year-old Utah boy is charged with shooting another teen twice in the head in a fight outside a middle school.

The other teenager, age 16, survived the shots fired during an Oct. 25 fight over a girl. Police say the younger boy was dating the 16-year-old's former girlfriend, and the taunts started with taunts over texts and social media.

The younger teen is charged with attempted murder and weapons violations.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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