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Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Highway shooting during Friday's rush hour commute was likely gang-related

Highway shooting during Friday's rush hour commute was likely gang-related not a road-rage incident as Utah Highway Patrol troopers had originally thought. Troopers closed off a southbound Interstate 15 collector road in Salt Lake City for five hours on Friday evening at 5:40 p.m. after an 18-year-old man was shot under his left arm while driving a gray Jeep Cherokee near 1600 South. At the time, troopers said the driver, Cesar Ramirez, might have been texting on his phone while weaving in and out of his lane, spurring a dark sports car to pull up next to him and fire at least one shot. But now troopers believe the shooting might have been part of a gang dispute. Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Nigbur said people in the Jeep and the dark sports car got into an argument and exchanged gang signs near 900 South and West Temple just 10 minutes prior to the I-15 shooting. During that argument, someone in one of the two cars threw a bottle at the other vehicle, Nigbur said. There also was a red car stopped between the two vehicles during the argument, and Nigbur said authorities believe it was driven by an innocent bystander stuck between the gang dispute. Nigbur did not know which gangs might be involved. He also said it was unclear how many people were in the dark sports car, and he was not sure whether people in the two vehicles knew each other before they began to argue on the city road Friday. "The question still remains: Did they just bump into each other and have this altercation?" Nigbur said. "Or was the shooting a result of something building over weeks or months? That's something we still haven't determined."
The driver who was shot managed to pull over to the roadside and was taken to a Intermountain Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition. A passenger in the Jeep was not injured. Authorities are still looking for the gunman and anyone who was in the dark sports car. Nigbur said the car continued southbound on the collector road and transferred onto westbound State Road 201


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