Gunman, victim in fatal parking lot shooting had been fighting, police say

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SALT LAKE CITY — The two men who police say were involved in a fatal confrontation in the parking lot of a West Valley restaurant last month had reportedly met that night to fight, according to court documents

Hassan Al-Rekabi, 18, is charged with murder and discharge of a firearm, first-degree felonies; plus obstruction justice and discharge of a firearm, second-degree felonies.

About 1:40 a.m. on April 28, West Valley police found the body of Jake Gengelbach, 22, in the parking lot of Hire's Big H, 4700 S. 2900 West. Four shell casings were also found in the parking lot.

A witness told West Valley police that "Hassan and Jake had not been getting along," and about 40 minutes before the shooting, the two men were seen together and were arguing, according to two new search warrant affidavits.

The witness also told detectives that at 1:32 a.m. on April 28, she received a message from Samuel Maile Niu, 19, "informing her Hassan and Jake were about to fight," according to a warrant. Five minutes later, nearby residents called 911 reporting that gunshots had been fired.

Investigators later received an anonymous tip from someone who called to say that Al-Rekabi was "looking for someone to drive him out of state because he had been in a fight and shot the person," one of the affidavits states.

Based on several tips, a SWAT team surrounded a house in Sandy on April 29. Just as the SWAT team was about to serve a warrant, Al-Rekabi drove away from the house. He was taken into custody a short time later.

Al-Rekabi initially denied shooting Gengelbach.

"After additional questioning, Hassan eventually admitted he shot Jake but claimed it was self-defense. Hassan stated the gun had fallen on the ground and he picked it up and, feeling threatened by Jake, shot him," the warrant states.

According to charging documents, however, Al-Rekabi and Gengelbach were standing by the same vehicle when Al-Rekabi "reached over the top of the vehicle and fired four shots." An autopsy determined Gengelbach suffered "multiple gunshot wounds to the back," according to the charges.

Niu and Bryan Zumaya-Garcia, 21, were later arrested for investigation of obstructing justice. Both men were present during the shooting, according to police.

"Both Bryan and Samuel were hesitant to reveal exact details of the incident and did not want to be labeled as 'snitches,'" the warrant states.

As of Monday, formal criminal charges had not been filed against the other men.


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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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