Police investigate reported gang slaying

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah — A West Valley City teen died early Sunday morning after being shot several times Saturday night, officials said.

West Valley police believe it was a gang-related shooting Sgt. Jason Hauer said.

Officers responded to reports of shots fired at the 4300 West block of 3100 South at 10:17 p.m. When officers arrived, Hauer said, they found 18-year-old Anthony Hernandez shot on the sidewalk.

Witnesses told police that two vehicles pulled up to Hernandez, who was in front of his home with several friends, and the occupants spoke to Hernandez.

“There was a brief exchange with gang references being made on both sides,” Hauer said.

Gun shots came from one of the vehicles, which then drove off, Hauer said. A neighbor who witnessed the incident described the attack, but he did not wish to be named.

“I didn’t see the gun,” the neighbor said. “I just seen the flashes from the gun go, ‘Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! Like five times. And he tried to run back, and he dropped. It was too close.”

Hernandez was taken to an area hospital where he died of his injuries at 2 a.m.

Linda Avila, the victim’s mother, said she can’t believe her son is gone.

“It hurts really bad that he left before me,” she said. “It’s a shame that he 18, lost his life, just for this gang thing. It’s ridiculous.”

The neighbor who witnessed the shooting said he has known the victim for many years, and he said Hernandez was always happy.

“I`ve known him since he was five years old, and that kid had a smile on his face every day,” he said. “He was the happiest kid. I could not imagine someone doing this to him.”

Police are tracking down leads in connection to the shooting but encourage witnesses to contact dispatch if they have more information, Hauer said. Police said one of the vehicles involved was a silver Nissan Armada SUV and the other vehicle, which was carrying the shooter, was a white four-door sedan.

Dispatch can be contacted at 801-840-4000.