Suspect arrested in shooting death of Aaron Lowe shouldn’t have been on the streets, previous victim says
Oct 4, 2021, 9:15 AM | Updated: Feb 3, 2023, 4:38 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — When police announced Sunday morning that they had made an arrest in the shooting death of University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe, the name of the suspected shooter rang eerily familiar.
George Bekmezian said it was nearly two years ago that Buk Mawut Buk, then 20, and a teenager held him at gunpoint during what was supposed to have been an exchange of a phone sold online.
“My daughter and I went out to buy a cell phone,” Bekmezian said in an interview with KSL TV Sunday evening. “Of course I wasn’t going to let a 21-year-old girl go by herself, so I went with her.”
Bekmezian said when they arrived at the pre-arranged meeting location near 3400 West and 5620 South on Oct. 12, 2019, two men approached in hoodies. When those individuals learned Bekmezian and his daughter were the purchasers, the situation changed quickly.
“He said, ‘Hey, I’m not effing around, give me the money,’ and as I turned, I saw he had a gun pointed right here next to my head,” recalled Bekmezian, who noted he was still in the driver’s seat when the gun was pointed at his head. “He says, ‘Look, we’re not messing around. He’s got a knife.’”
Bekmezian said he handed off the money and the two suspects took off running.
“As they ran off, you know, I have a concealed carry (permit),” Bekmezian said. “And I did — I took a few shots at them.”
Nobody was injured by the gunfire, but the sound woke neighbors and police arrived quickly to the neighborhood.
“They were able to find and catch these guys,” Bekmezian said.
Buk was arrested and originally charged with first-degree felony aggravated robbery and first-degree felony robbery, among other alleged crimes.
Bekmezian said he thought Buk — the one he said was pointing the gun at him — would have gone to jail or prison for a significant amount of time after what amounted to a violent crime.
Then, he saw the news story on Sunday morning.
“I saw his name — Buk Buk,” Bekmezian said. “To me, it’s not a very common name, and 22 years old? I did the quick math. He was 20 two years ago. This is the same guy.”
In fact, court records showed Buk had been convicted in June 2020 with that crime, as well as another similar robbery set up again through an online ad.
By November 2020, however, Buk was apparently already on the streets. According to court records, he was taken into custody as a fleeing passenger of a stolen car. A probable cause statement said Buk was found with ammo in his pocket that matched the caliber of a stolen handgun found in the vehicle. While Buk was charged with second-degree felony theft by receiving stolen property and possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person, those charges were ultimately dismissed and Buk pleaded guilty to a class A misdemeanor count of failing to stop at the command of a law enforcement officer.
Court records showed as of the end of March, Buk was free on 36 months probation.
Bekmezian described his emotions upon learning that Buk was on the streets again and accused of homicide as “frustration, honestly anger, and sad(ness) for Lowe and his family.”
“If I was his family, I would want to know why this guy is out on the streets today and he was arrested for violent crimes just two years ago,” Bekmezian said.
He only wished he had the answers himself.
“This seems to be a recurring theme we read a lot about in Utah,” Bekmezian said. “Violent criminals have minimal sentences, plea deals and they’re out on the streets.”