WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (AP) — A man shot and wounded Monday morning after pulling a gun in a police station lobby in suburban Salt Lake City told officers months ago that he wanted to be killed by police because he was a registered sex offender and his wife was taking his kids, authorities said.
The shooting happened at about 8:30 a.m. in a building that sits amid shops and other businesses in downtown West Valley City, temporarily halting light-rail and bus service in the area during rush hour.
James Ramsey Kammeyer, 39, entered the police department alone and repeatedly asked an officer to come out from behind a partition, police Sgt. Jason Hauer said.
Kammeyer had his hands in his pockets and his behavior quickly raised suspicion, Hauer said.
The officer behind the glass asked Kammeyer to show his hands. Kammeyer instead turned his back to the officer, pulled a handgun and pointed it at the officer and a nearby records clerk.
One of several officers who came to help then fired multiple rounds at Kammeyer, hitting him twice in the arm.
“Obviously, the officer felt the threat was such that he had to take action, and shots were fired,” Hauer said.
Kammeyer was taken to a hospital but was expected to be released later Monday. Police were preparing to charge him with multiple felonies.
Hauer said he didn’t know if Kammeyer ever fired his gun. Nobody else was harmed.
Monday’s encounter with Kammeyer wasn’t the first for West Valley City police.
After responding to a call of a suicidal person, Kammeyer told officers in December he wanted to die by being shot by police because he was a registered sex offender and his wife was taking his kids, Hauer said. Officers talked him down that night.
Court records show a Kammeyer pleaded guilty in 1999 to child sex abuse. He was given credit for 120 days spent in jail and sentenced to 36 months’ probation, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer said.
But court records show Kammeyer violated the terms of his probation in 2002, and it was revoked and reinstated. He completed probation in 2004.
Kammeyer’s 1999 felony conviction would have prohibited him from possessing any guns, said Dwayne Baird, spokesman for the Utah Department of Public Safety. If he had a concealed-weapons permit, that would have been taken from him as well.
State authorities cannot release any information about who holds a permit, Baird said.
Hauer said Kammeyer was recently estranged from his wife, but he had no further details
Kammeyer’s handgun was found in the small lobby that was filled with broken glass and had at least two bullet holes in the window.
The lobby sits a mere 30 yards from a Trax light rail line stop and a public bus stop. The building also near is offices, stores, restaurants and the city hall building in the heart of this west-Salt Lake City suburb of about 132,000 people.
West Valley City briefly ordered a stop to light-rail service at a station near the police department, Utah Transit Authority spokesman Remi Barron said. Bus service also was stopped in the area but was later back running without delays, Barron said.
The area surrounding the police department was taped off as investigators looked for evidence. But when the shooting occurred, the area was bustling with people getting on and off the train and bus.
Bonnie Barkhimer was sitting on the light rail train stopped nearby when she said she saw six or seven police officers swarm out of building when the shooting occurred. She jumped into the doorway — preparing to get off if needed. But police asked all riders to stay inside. They interviewed her and others about what they saw.
She said she never saw the suspect but there were a “ton of bullets.”
“This is supposed to be a safe, civilian place,” Barkhimer said. “Not a place of gunfire.”
Leilani Wolfgramm, who was on her way to school, also witnessed the shooting from the train while sitting next to Barkhimer and another woman.
When the shots were fired, Wolfgramm said dozens of people standing at the light rail station dove for the ground or tried to board the train. After the officer fired, other officers came out of the building with their guns drawn, she said.
“These two started freaking out and that’s when I started freaking out,” said Wolfgramm, pointing to Barkhimer and another woman.
Hauer said officers came out to make sure everyone was safe on the train and at the bus stop but didn’t fire any shots.
The beleaguered police department has drawn attention after federal and local prosecutors dropped nearly 100 cases that came out of the department’s drug unit. The now-disbanded narcotics unit is the subject of internal investigations and probes by the county attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI.
Associated Press writers Michelle Price and Paul Foy in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.