Drug deal gone bad led to double killing in Taylorsville, police say

Feb 1, 2023, 9:49 AM | Updated: 10:19 am
(KSL TV)...

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — A gun battle inside a car during a drug deal gone bad resulted in the deaths of two people Monday night in Taylorsville, including the gunman who started the confrontation, according to police.

Rafael Antonio Torres, 19, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail Tuesday night for investigation of aggravated murder and obstructing justice after surrendering to police. But according to Torres’ attorney, Torres shot and killed a man only after that man shot his cousin who was driving the vehicle.

The deadly incident unfolded about 11:30 p.m. Monday when two people were found shot in a Honda at the Atherton Park Apartments, 4545 S. Atherton Drive (1075 West). Multiple bullet holes were found in the car’s windshield and the driver’s side window, said Taylorsville Police Sgt. Jake Hill. After the driver, 21-year-old Eduardo Moreno-Lujan, was shot, the car remained in gear and kept rolling.

“Upon arrival of initial responding officers, a silver sedan was observed suspended and high centered on a bank of snow, against the bordering fence of the apartment complex,” according to a police booking affidavit.

A security guard for the complex found Moreno-Lujan in the driver’s seat and another man in the front passenger seat — both with gunshot wounds, the affidavit states. Taylorsville police said Wednesday they were still working to confirm the identity of the man in the passenger seat.

Autopsies were performed Tuesday on both men. The driver was shot in the head, according to police.

“The autopsy of the front passenger revealed that John Doe sustained contact wounds to his left chest and left abdomen, as well as a grazing gunshot wound from his left ear that went into a downward manner to the bottom of the right side of his neck,” the affidavit states.

Detectives investigating the incident learned from a relative that Moreno-Lujan and Torres are cousins and that both of them met up with a third man for a drug transaction “where the buyer sat in the front seat of the vehicle and displayed a firearm during the discussion of the transaction and shot (the driver) and Torres shot the front passenger,” according to the affidavit.

While police were searching for Torres and keeping surveillance on his home, his attorney called emergency dispatchers.

“A meeting was immediately arranged within minutes and detectives went to the attorney’s office as Torres’ counsel advised that he was voluntarily surrendering,” the affidavit says.

The attorneys also provided police with a statement.

“In the statement, which was also confirmed in Torres’ presence, his attorney states that Torres accompanied his cousin, (the driver), to a narcotic-related transaction as (the driver) drove and Torres was in the back seat upon arriving to the meeting location (crime scene). The purchaser, who is still considered a John Doe at this time, entered the front passenger seat,” the arrest report says.

As the three were discussing the drug transaction, the front passenger claimed he needed more money to make the deal, Torres’ attorneys told police. He then “pretended to open the door of the car, but pulled out a gun and shot (Moreno-Lujan). Torres was also possessing a handgun and shot John Doe from the back seat and gunfire was exchanged as Torres exited the vehicle and ‘fired the last shot’ as he fled the scene, with the belief that John Doe may have other friends in the area,” according to the affidavit.

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Drug deal gone bad led to double killing in Taylorsville, police say