GUN VIOLENCE

Man arrested in connection to fatal shooting of teen in Sugar House in September

Jan 4, 2024, 12:09 PM | Updated: 7:19 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Police have arrested a man in connection to a September shooting that killed 18-year-old J’kye Watkins.

Watkins was found with multiple gunshot wounds near 900 East and 2100 South in Sugar House around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2023. Detectives said they believe he attended an event at a private party venue when he got into a fight with a group of men.

Those men left the party and allegedly began circling the area in a gray Nissan Sentra. Police said Watkins was walking through a parking lot when the men turned off the car’s headlights, entered the lot and shot Watkins.

He was transported to the hospital in extremely critical condition and died hours later from his injuries.

Raelynn Payne said she is still grieving the loss of her grandson  said he was barely 18 when killed. She said his death has been difficult for his family and she has been praying for a break in the case.

The vandalized memorial for J’kye Watkins outside of the Walgreens he was shot at.

The vandalized memorial for J’kye Watkins outside of the Walgreens he was shot at. (KSL TV)

“We want to see Justice be done for him,” Payne said. “That’s what we’re looking for, is justice for him. He was a really good kid, he didn’t deserve this at all.”

Watkins’ uncle, Tyler Fillmore, said his nephew was shot 10 times. Fillmore also described Watkins as a funny young man who loved his family.

“J’kye would do anything for his family. He loved his brothers and sister, but most of all he loved his mom and that’s what is the most heartbreaking,” Fillmore said. “I just want people to know that the story out there might be negative but that’s just not him. He’s a great kid.”

Teen with dark brown eyes

J’kye Watkins (Family photo)

The Salt Lake City Police Department said officers arrested the driver of the Nissan, who was identified as Felix Diego-Rufino. He was booked into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail on one count of murder.

“In this case we’re obviously happy we could take one of these individuals off the street and we’ll continue to work until we get the rest of them as well,” Det. Michael Ruff with SLCPD said.

Police said their investigation is ongoing and additional arrests may be made. Anyone with information about this case should call 801-799-3000 and reference case No. 23-03839.

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Man arrested in connection to fatal shooting of teen in Sugar House in September