CRIME

Salt Lake City memorial for slain teen was vandalized

Sep 18, 2023, 7:20 PM | Updated: 7:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Just days after a Utah teen was gunned down outside a Walgreens in Sugarhouse, his memorial has been destroyed.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Tyler Fillmore, the victim’s uncle.

J’kye Watkins, 18, was outside the Walgreens near 900 East and 2100 South the morning of Sept. 10, when he was shot multiple times. Police say a fight broke out prior to the shooting and multiple witnesses were on scene.

“We know there were people up there that night that saw what happened and we want them to come forward,” said Sgt. Mark Wian, of Salt Lake City police.

Watkins suffered critical injuries and died at a hospital soon afterward. His uncle says he never had a chance to survive.

“There’s four [shots] to the head, four to the chest, and two to the legs and stomach area,” Fillmore said. “I don’t think he really had a fighting chance, you know.”

In the days following the shooting, a memorial was established outside of the Walgreens. A manager tells KSL TV several days ago, a man wearing a covering on his face showed up in the early hours and destroyed it by kicking it and smashing the candles – sending glass all over the parking lot. The memorial was also egged and tagged with spray paint.

“People spend their time to celebrate his life and put their memories of him there, and it gets kicked over, knocked over, destroyed, and for what? Nothing,” Fillmore said.

The memorial before the vandalism (left) and after the vandalism (right).

The memorial before the vandalism (left) and after the vandalism (right). (KSL TV)

It’s now been eight days since the shooting and no arrests have been made in the case.

“We want to put a timeline together, put all the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out what happened and hold those people accountable,” Wian said.

Fillmore says he wants Salt Lake City police to release any security photos or video collected near the scene.

“Nothing has taken place, no guns recovered, no arrests have been made,” Fillmore said. “Me and my dad went up there, and there are cameras everywhere.”

He says funeral preparations are underway for his nephew and his service will likely be held at the end of the week. He’s praying his sister, J’kye’s mother, will have answers about what happened to her son before he’s laid to rest.

“Help put my sister’s heart at ease, let her have the closure she needs,” Fillmore said.

Salt Lake City police say homicide detectives are actively working on Watkins’s case and are asking the community to come forward with information.

“Any loss of life is devastating, especially for the family members of that loved one, so that’s our ask, if you were up there that night and you witnessed something, please put yourself in this family’s shoes, we want those answers, just as much as the family does, and so please give us a call 801-799-3000,” Wian said.

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Salt Lake City memorial for slain teen was vandalized