Springville experiences fourth death in a week due to gun violence
May 26, 2022, 8:06 PM | Updated: May 27, 2022, 11:31 am
SPRINGVILLE, Utah –Police are investigating a third homicide, and fourth death in a week due to gun violence.
This latest homicide occurred Wednesday around 11:00 a.m. at the home near 471 North 100 East.
“The whole thing is just a nightmare,” said Marilee Bubash, a long-time neighbor of Michael Huff, who was found dead in his home from an apparent gunshot wound.
Bubash says she was home when 33-year-old Krista Mortensen, Huff’s step-daughter who was caring for him while he was on home health and hospice, knocked on her door asking for help.
“She seemed nervous or upset about something, and she wanted me to call 911,” Bubash recounted. “She said, ‘I lost my phone. I need you to call 911.’”
When she asked Mortensen what was wrong, she said Mortensen replied “Mike is dying.”
She described how she walked with Mortensen to Huff’s home. She’s known him for 22 years.
Huff, she said, was on home hospice care. Neighbors said he had just been released from the hospital last weekend.
“Mike wasn’t in his hospital bed, and I could see the feeding tube on the floor in the kitchen,” Bubash said.
Emergency responders arrived a short time later and discovered Huff had been shot and killed in the basement, according to arresting documents.
Police believe Mortensen shot her step-father in the head.
“I don’t know why it happened, it just boggles my mind,” Bubash expressed. “Because he was the most gentle, the most kindest man that would ever want to meet. I mean, we loved Mike.”
Mortensen initially refused to cooperate with police and locked herself in a room, police documents state, however she was eventually taken into custody. Police said she then made multiple statements about the killing.
Huff’s death is the fourth by gun violence in the city of Springville since Saturday.
Springville Mayor Matt Packard grew up with Huff and was a long-time friend. He said Huff was a decorated veteran.
“It takes a great toll on the friends and family and neighbors,” Mayor Packard said. “We just really appreciated the outpouring of love and support to the families, those people who need it most.”
Huff served the 101st Airborne Division from 1969-1971, he was awarded the Bronze Star three times. Neighbor Lynn Schofield, who spent Wednesday evening with Huff’s wife, expressed his hope that people remember how Huff lived rather than how he died.
“We don’t want to lose the sight of Mike, and the great things that he did as a human being through his life,” Schofield said.
He described how the living room wall in Huff’s home is filled with plaques, medals, certificates, and awards from his military service.
“She wants people to remember her husband who was a true patriot, and who was a foundational member of his neighborhood and his community, and was just a genuinely good human being,” Schofield said, of Huff’s wife.
Mayor Packard expressed sadness for all those taken unnecessarily by gun violence in Springville this past week, he wants residents to remember that each homicide was an isolated case and that a suspect was identified or arrested. He says Springville is still a safe place and is asking for residents to look out for each other.
“These situations can make you better or worse, and we think Springville will do what it characteristically does and that is to become better and be a more aware community and a more giving community, a more non-judgement community and allow these circumstances to make us better,” he said.
Mayor Packard is also asking resident to come together and support each other during this difficult time.
“We ask our citizens to be aware of circumstances and people and people around them, situations around them, and we ask our citizens to do what they do best and extend a hand of friendship and fellowship to the people that are around them and lift them and help them,” he said.
This has been a difficult week on the Springville Police Department, which is a small department of just 33. The Police Chief Lance Haight says their detectives were meeting with the state’s crisis incident stress debrief team when this 3rd homicide case was called in.
“It’s been a shock to our police department, it’s also been a shock to our community,” said Haight.
Chief Haight says he is aware of the mental health toll this takes on his staff, including the dispatchers who take the initial crisis calls. He says mental health services are being provided to all of them and their families as they wrap their heads around what has happened this past week.
“The general attitude 24 years ago was you just suck it up and push it down and keep working, but we know this is not the way to address things today, so we’ve very proactive about the mental health of our officers, we make sure we check with each on a regular basis.”