CRIME

Teen charged with two counts of murder in West Valley shooting

Jan 26, 2022, 3:18 PM | Updated: Mar 7, 2022, 2:42 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY— A teenage boy is being charged with two counts of murder after allegedly shooting and killing 14-year-old Tivani Lopati and 15-year-old Paul Tahi court documents state.

Since the accused shooter is a minor, KSL TV will not be using his name.

According to court documents, just after 11 a.m., police officers arrived at 4100 South Mountain View and found Lopati and Tahi dead from gunshot wounds and transferred a third teen, 15-year-old Ephraim Asiata to Intermountain Medical Center with one gunshot wound to his abdomen.

Investigators found four .40 S&W casings near where the shooting occurred along with a S& W .40 caliber gun on the other side of a residential fence. They originally took multiple teens into custody.

Witnesses said there was a physical fight between two groups ending with the shots being fired.

Court documents outline how one person police initially took into custody told them, “he and his friends had been involved in a dispute for more than a year with a group that included the deceased males,” and that on the day before the shooting members of the rival group “told him he would be beaten up if he returned to school the next day.”

That person told police he brought a gun to school the next day in response to that threat.

During the suspect’s interview, the suspect told police “he and his group of friends had been harassed by a group of Tongan males at school and his friend [name redacted] stated he would fight the males one-on-one.”

The teens taken into custody and the suspect each told detectives that the two groups walked away from Hunter High and started fighting.

A passerby shouted at them to stop, multiple witnesses reported, and the groups initially separated.

As one group began to walk away, boys from the other group, “jumped them” court documents state. During the chaos, the teen who reported being threatened heard gun shots and ran- throwing the gun he brought to school into a nearby ditch. Officers recovered a loaded 9mm near where this boy was taken into custody.

The suspect stated that when the “group reengaged to continue the fight,” after the passerby had broken them up previously, he “began shooting into the crowd before running away.” He later admitted to throwing the S&W .40 caliber handgun he had used, over the fence.

While police took a group of teens into custody early on, everyone aside from the 14-year-old accused shooter was released and at this time do not face charges.

On Jan. 14, Dr. Stanley, Assistant Medical Examiner with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, performed an autopsy and concluded the manner of death for both Lopati and Tahi was homicide due to their gunshot wounds.

After a court hearing Wednesday where Judge Mark May read the charges and set a future court date, Tivani’s family released this statement:

“Communicating through family spokesman, Jake Fitisemanu, the Lopati-Maumau family shared the following statement: ‘As a family, we trust and are very supportive of the justice system. We would like to express our love and acknowledge Principal Oaks and Hunter High School, Councilman Fitisemanu, our WVC community, family and friends near and far for their love and support. It has brought us closer together as a family and has made this tragic incident somewhat bearable today. Our hearts and prayers are with the Tahi and Asiata families. Our focus is to celebrate our son’s last days here with us. Alofa atu (with love).’ “

Prosecutors have charged the teen with two counts of murder, discharge of a firearm with serious injury, discharge of a firearm with injury, obstructing justice, possession of a dangerous weapon on school premises, possession by minor of handgun.

State prosecutors are attempting to try him as an adult in this case.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Crime

Salt Lake City police responding to a shooting at the Downtown West apartment complex. (SLC PD)...
Michael Houck & Lauren Steinbrecher

One person in critical condition after shooting at Salt Lake City apartment complex

Salt Lake City police are investigating a shooting with several people detained Sunday evening. 
1 day ago
Layton police responding to a barricaded suspect in an apartment building. (Courtesy: Phoenix Antho...
Michael Houck

SWAT arrest fugitive who hid in an Layton apartment complex

A wanted fugitive is in police custody after hiding out in a Layton apartment complex Sunday afternoon.
1 day ago
FILE (KSL TV)...
Brooke Williams

Stolen vehicle fled from UHP at traffic stop and crashed

A vehicle, which was stolen out of Sandy, was to be pulled over by UHP when it fled and crashed with other cars.
1 day ago
[FILE] Jail Handcuffs (KSL-TV)...
Michael Houck

Magna school teacher arrested for sexual abuse charges

A first-grade teacher is facing four felony charges of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
2 days ago
FILE PHOTO - (Deseret News)...
Andy Rose, CNN

Colorado police release video of police car with suspect inside hit by a train

Colorado police released videos that show a suspect who was detained by police and placed inside a police cruiser that was hit by a train.
2 days ago
...
Ladd Egan

‘Totally devastated’: Trucks, trailers and ATVs stolen from Pleasant Grove neighborhood

Residents of a Utah County neighborhood that was targeted by car thieves last weekend are warning others to be on the lookout.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Teen charged with two counts of murder in West Valley shooting