SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City Police say a security guard has been booked into jail on a murder charge after he fatally shot a trespasser following an altercation in downtown Salt Lake City.
Police say 26-year-old Timothy R. Lutes has been booked into jail on one count of murder in the death of 54-year-old Thomas Stanfield.
Things began around 5:25 a.m. when Lutes encountered Stanfield while Stanfield was trespassing in a plaza near 140 East and 300 South, outside the Department of Workforce Services Building.
Police say Lutes told the man to leave and was shining a light on the man as they talked, which sparked a physical altercation.
"The altercation lasted for quite some time," said Sgt. Brandon Shearer of Salt Lake City Police. "At some point during the altercation, the victim in this case... started walking away from Mr. Lutes. Again Mr. Lutes engaged him, and at some point—as Stanfield again appeared to be walking away from him—shots were fired, striking Mr. Stanfield and killing him."
Authorities say there is surveillance footage of the incident but they said they aren't sure if that video will be released to the public as this is an ongoing investigation.
Shearer said the law allows citizens to use lethal force to defend themselves, but that detectives felt like this was not a case of self-defense.
"I can't talk about, again, the specifics—I haven't seen the surveillance video in this case," Shearer said. "People do have a right to defend their life, if they fear their life is threatened. Based off what detectives learned in their investigation of this case, they did not feel that was necessarily what happened in this case, which is what led to the [murder] charge."
Police say they believe Stanfield was shot twice.
Lutes is employed by private security company called Citadel Security USA, which is contracted by The Department of Administrative Services to provide security for the area after work hours. The department tells Fox 13 News they are evaluating their contract to determine if they need to find another security company.
Family of Lutes told Fox 13 that he's been a security guard for a couple of years, and also serves in the National Guard.
Facebook posts on a profile confirmed by family to belong to Lutes make references to guns and self defense. Lutes regularly shares memes about gun ownership.
One meme states: "Praying and changing your profile picture won't help. Getting mad and killing bad guys will."
"Don't p*** off old people. The older we get, the less 'Life in Prison' is a deterrent," states one post that Lutes shared to his page.
"Carrying with an empty chamber is like telling yourself you'll have time to put on a seat belt before you wreck," states another.
Another meme says, "Mess with a vet if you want. But keep in mind, to even become a vet, they first had to hit a target at 300 meters, without a scope."
Citadel Security USA released the following statement regarding Wednesday's shooting:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to all affected by this tragedy. Citadel Security is fully cooperating with the Salt Lake City Police Department, as they continue their investigation of a shooting that involved one of our Security Officers. It would be inaccurate and incredibly irresponsible for us to make any statements without knowing the facts in this case. We will refer any questions involving the ongoing investigation to the Salt lake City Police Department.
We will begin our own administrative investigation of the information released to us by the authorities, it is the practice of Citadel, not to comment on any open investigation.
Citadel Security is committed to the safety and wellbeing of the communities we serve. We have heart felt grief for the individual that lost their life and our thoughts and prayers go out to their family.
As an organization that helps protect our community, our priority is to make sure all within our organization meet the highest standards.
Citadel Security will release more information as it becomes available."