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1 dead, classes canceled at U. amid reports of shots fired

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SALT LAKE CITY — One person was shot dead in an attempted carjacking in the foothills bordering the University of Utah campus Monday evening, police said, forcing a lockdown at the university as police combed Red Butte Canyon for a suspect late into the night.

"I wouldn’t call it an active shooter situation, but there is still a suspect who’s armed and dangerous that we would like to take into custody," said Salt Lake City Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer.

Late Monday, police said they are searching for Austin Boutain, 24, in connection to the shooting that happened about 9 p.m. just after a woman reported that he assaulted her. She told police he was in the canyon and that she believed he had a gun, said University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy. Detectives believe the pair had been camping in the canyon.

Brophy said the gunshot victim was in a car at the gate of the canyon and didn't have any connection to Boutain. Brophy didn't immediately release any other details about the victim or the attempt to steal the car.

"We believe Mr. Boutain is in the hills up above Red Butte Canyon," Brophy said, noting the mountains were "expansive" and that at least a few hundred officers were searching for the suspect in the brush.

The eastern half of the sprawling campus bisected by Mario Capecchi Drive remained on lockdown early Tuesday morning.

Later, the university announced via Twitter classes were canceled and a secure-in-place was lifted.

The suspected gunman was wearing black clothes and beanie hat and has a tattoo on his face with a cross and teardrop, Shearer said. Police initially said he possibly was driving a forest green pickup truck with Colorado plates but later said it wasn't clear if he still had access to that car Monday evening.

"I know there were several witnesses," Shearer said, adding that police were interviewing them late into the night.

He urged the public to keep an eye out for anyone around the university who seemed to act suspiciously or as if they were hiding. Police urged people to remain inside throughout the night as they did a search of buildings and dorms in the area.

The university advised those on campus to shelter in place and issued a campus alert Monday about 9 p.m. More than four hours later, there was still "heavy police presence" in and around the foothills.

A Department of Public Safety helicopter was also searching for the suspect, along with multiple Salt Lake County police agencies.

U. student Andrew Cleveland said his friends, who were in the Peterson Heritage Center near the canyon, sent him texts saying there was a suspected shooter.

"Right when I got that text message, I heard two gunshots right outside my window," he said. Cleveland said his apartment is roughly 100 yards from the canyon. He hid and couldn't see anything from his window, he said.

Boston Walch was nearby at a Halloween party in the LDS Institute of Religion as police combed the foothills for a suspect. Walch said officers told students there to stay inside and away from windows, and go upstairs. Some at the institute tried to leave the building to go to a dance.

"Police told them to go back inside," Walch said.

Light rail service nearby was temporarily suspended, with the TRAX red line stopping at Stadium Station with police nearby.


Contributing: Joe Davis, Xoel Cardenas


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