Accidental Shooting Claims Life of Forensics Director

Accidental Shooting Claims Life of Forensics Director

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) -- The director of the West Valley City police forensics department died Thursday night after the rifle he was examining fired, hitting him in the chest, officials said.

A doctor at University Hospital confirmed early Friday morning that Scott Spjut, 38, died at 9:45 p.m. after undergoing surgery.

The shooting occurred shortly before 4 p.m. in the police department's basement forensics unit, said West Valley police Assistant Chief Craig Gibson.

The room the civilian technician was working in is one of several connected to a central evidence processing area. While no one else was in the room when the semiautomatic rifle went off, there were five other technicians and a detective in the area.

"They heard it and responded, gave him aid," Gibson said.

Spjut was a fingerprint specialist. He was photographing the weapon when it accidentally went off, said West Valley Police Lt. Jim Crowley.

The department has "never had any injuries like that down there," Gibson said.

Department protocol demands that firearms booked as evidence are empty. Gibson said an investigation would determine why the rifle was loaded.

The West Valley police forensics unit is about five years old. Gibson said the injured worker has been with the department at least that long.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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