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Man charged with murder in fatal punch at Salt Lake homeless camp

A man was charged with murder Tuesday in the beating death last month of a man at a homeless camp in Salt Lake City.

A man was charged with murder Tuesday in the beating death last month of a man at a homeless camp in Salt Lake City. (Shutterstock)



SALT LAKE CITY — A man was charged Tuesday with attacking three people at a homeless camp in separate fights on the same day, causing fatal injuries to one of them.

Juan Ayala Jr., 46, who goes by the moniker "Gorilla," is charged in 3rd District Court with aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony; homicide by assault, a third-degree felony; and two counts of assault, a class B misdemeanor.

On May 17, Bernardo Perez was found lying on the ground near 220 S. Rio Grande with a head injury, according to charging documents. He was taken to a local hospital where it was determined he had a skull fracture. Perez died from his injuries on May 21.

As police were investigating that incident they learned that two men, one only known as "Gorilla," went into a tent and tried to take a man's thermos. The two began hitting the man with a stick and "large metal pole," causing bruising on the man's arms, according to charging documents. Police say they also took the man's laptop.

In May, Christopher Michael Flores, 53, was charged with aggravated robbery in connection with the robbery in the tent.

Police say Ayala was the second person involved in the robbery and it was one of three fights he was involved in that day. Surveillance video also captured him punching Perez in the face, knocking him to the ground and not getting up, according to the charges.

Prosecutors say all three attacks were unprovoked and they have requested he be held in the Salt Lake County Jail without bail.

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