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SALT LAKE CITY — The daughter of a man who police say was killed by a security guard says her father was homeless and that the trespassing situation didn’t need to result in fatal shots being fired.
“I really wish I could have been there — maybe it would have been prevented,” said Michelle Higgins. “I feel like the security guard could have handled it completely different.”
Wednesday afternoon, police arrested the security guard, Timothy Lutes, 26, and booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail on investigation of murder. He’s accused of shooting Higgins’ 54-year-old father, Thomas Stanfield, twice in the back.
“It makes me sick,” Higgins said of the incident. “Makes me sick that they would resort to that. There are other options.”
Higgins says her father had told his family he was going to seek services from the Department of Workforce Services. It was near that building on 300 South in downtown Salt Lake City that police say the 54-year-old was asked by a security guard to leave around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.
In court documents, Salt Lake City police detectives write that Lutes stated that he “shone his flashlight on the victim to keep visual on him and his actions” and that Stanfield “became verbally aggressive toward him and then physically aggressive.”
Lutes went on to tell investigators he was punched in the face and at one point Stanfield “removed his holster containing his firearm from his belt and pointed it at him.”
“The altercation lasted for quite some time,” said Sgt. Brandon Shearer with Salt Lake City Police Department.
Detectives reviewed surveillance video and say it “shows the victim walking away from Timothy several times and each time contact is reinitiated by Timothy.”
Detectives write in the jail booking documents that the video shows Stanfield standing and facing away from Lutes, and that Stanfield takes several steps away as Lutes fires twice, hitting Stanfield two times in the back.
“People do have a right to defend their life if they fear their life is threatened,” Sgt. Shearer said. “Based off of what detectives learned during their investigation of this case, they did not feel that was necessarily what happened in this case, which is what led to the charge.”
“I literally just dropped down and started crying,” Higgins said of receiving the phone call informing her that her dad was dead. “He was a good soul. I mean he wasn’t perfect.”