SOUTH SALT LAKE, UT. (AP) — A 31-year-old police officer in a Salt Lake City suburb was killed when he was intentionally struck by a car carrying fleeing burglary suspects, police said.
The driver of the car was shot and killed by police and an accomplice was arrested.
South Salt Lake Officer David Romrell died Saturday night at a hospital, Police Chief Jack Carruth said. The Marine Corps veteran is survived by his wife and 4-month-old child.
Carruth said Romrell and another officer responded to a burglary call at a business and came across two males trying to flee in a car. The officers got out of their patrol vehicles and ordered the suspects to stop. Instead, the driver accelerated and struck Romrell.
Police spokesman officer Gary Keller said Sunday it appears that both officers shot at the car as it drove toward Romrell. An outside agency is investigating the police shooting, he said.
The driver left the scene and the car was later found. He died of an apparent gunshot wound and his passenger was tracked down and arrested.
The dead driver was identified Sunday as 32-year-old West Valley City resident Felix Anthony Calata. The other suspect hasn’t been identified.
Carruth said Romrell had been on the police force for nearly a year and described him as a “tactically sound” officer who was humble, soft-spoken and kind. The department had never lost an officer in the line of duty.
“As much as we prepare or know the risk of this job, we’re not prepared for this,” Carruth said. “It’s taken us all by surprise. It’s been very, very painful.”
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement that he and his wife Jeanette join South Salt Lake police in mourning Romrell.
“He was exemplary in every way, and I feel humbled by the service he gave his country as a Marine, as well as the service he gave our communities here in Utah,” Herbert said.
He said he will order the U.S. and Utah flags lowered to half-staff on the day of Romrell’s funeral.