Salt Lake vet attacked, has flag defaced on consecutive days

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SALT LAKE CITY — A retired U.S. Army veteran says on consecutive nights, someone defaced his prized American flag and then attacked him, pouring gasoline on him in the process.

"I don’t understand a single bit of it. I don't," said Tayler Kays, of Salt Lake City. "There’s no way you can explain the thought process of someone like that. No one can."

Kays uses his garage as a place to seek solace and collect his thoughts. Inside, there several mementos that have deep personal meaning to him, he said, including a U.S. flag he received when he retired from Ft. Bragg in 2012.

On Friday night, someone went into Kays' garage and spray-painted a profanity on his flag, he said.

Then Saturday, Kays said he went out to his garage after hearing a noise. When he went inside, Kays was confronted by a man in front of him and then attacked from behind by another man, who wrapped wire around Kays' neck, he said.

"And that’s when they decided they wanted to pour gasoline on me too,” Kays said.

After dousing him in gas, the men attempted to light Kays on fire, he said, but their lighter kept flickering. That gave Kays enough time to fight back and chase the two men off, he said.

Kays suffered minor injuries in the ordeal.

Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking said the case was still under investigation Tuesday. Detectives are working to determine whether the vandalism and assault were committed by the same people, as well as a motive for them. Nothing was taken from Kays' garage, Wilking said.

Kays said he believes the incidents are related, calling the attacks were "very deliberate." Because it was dark, Kays did not get a good look at the two men, he said, so he couldn't provide police with much of a description of the men.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call police at 801-799-3000.

Contributing: Nicole Vowell

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Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


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