Police link unsolved killing to shooting at Salt Lake market

Unified police say the shooting death of Akosita Kaufusi, whose body was found near Saltair in Magna in 2020 is connected to a shooting at a market in Salt Lake City a few days earlier.

Unified police say the shooting death of Akosita Kaufusi, whose body was found near Saltair in Magna in 2020 is connected to a shooting at a market in Salt Lake City a few days earlier. (Carissa Hutchinson, KSL TV)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Unified police say they believe an unsolved homicide and a shooting at a Salt Lake market a few days earlier are connected.

But detectives are not revealing many other details about what the connection is between the killing of Akosita Kaufusi, 42, whose body was found by a jogger near the Great Saltair in 2020, and a shooting that happened about the same time at the K&K African Market, 996 S. Redwood Road.

Police have said, however, that Kaufusi was frequently at that market.

Kaufusi's body was discovered on Aug. 29, 2020, just off the Frontage Road near Saltair. An autopsy determined she was shot in the head and had been dead for several days before her body was discovered. No one has been arrested in that case, despite a $5,000 reward being offered for information leading to the conviction of the person, or people, responsible.

On Thursday, Unified police released a brief statement saying detectives "have linked" Kaufusi's shooting death to a shooting at the K&K market on Aug. 9, 2020.

Police were called to the market about 6:20 a.m. on a report of a shooting. The victim, however, claimed his injury was caused by falling on rebar, according to a Salt Lake police watch log report.

"Witnesses on scene stated there was an argument between the victim and several Polynesian males and heard what sounded like a gunshot," the report states.

The man was taken to a local hospital with injuries that weren't life-threatening. Detectives recovered a shell casing from the scene.

Police have not said why they believe the two incidents are connected. However, Unified police made a plea to the public on Thursday asking anyone with information about the shootings to come forward.

According to police reports, Salt Lake City officers also responded to a report of shots fired at the K&K market two days earlier on Aug. 7, 2020.

"When they arrived, they could not locate a victim or find witnesses. A shell casing was located at the scene. A short time later, a gunshot wound victim arrived at a local hospital. Officers were unable to interview the victim," according to a watch log report.

Unified police detectives have interviewed multiple people since Kaufusi's death. Family members told investigators that Kaufusi had been missing for two weeks prior to her body being discovered, which was "out of the norm" for her because "she usually is at the African Market and easy to find," according to search warrant affidavits.

Based on evidence collected so far, detectives believe Kaufusi was killed around Aug. 14, 2020 or shortly after. Unified police on Friday acknowledged that Kaufusi and her associates were at the K&K market often, but do not believe she was shot there.

Several people interviewed by police have stated that Kaufusi was killed "due to a her owing a drug debt or she was robbed and killed over drugs, and/or both," the warrants state. Unified police said that as of Friday, no such motive had been confirmed or ruled out.

Police were also told by several people that Kaufusi "got into a physical fight a few days prior to her last being seen alive on around the day of Aug. 13," according to one of the warrants.

Anyone with information about Kaufusi's death is asked to call police at 801-743-7000.

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


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