Breaking News: Gunshot Near University of Utah Campus

At approximately 9 p.m. the University of Utah sent a campus wide alert to students instructing them to shelter in place.

The alert was issued to students in response to the sound of shots being fired from the direction of Red Butte Canyon, near the U of U dorms. The shots are believed to have come from an attempted carjacking where one individual was killed.

The victim was identified by University of Utah President David W. Pershing as ChenWei Guo. Guo was an international student from China studying computer science at the University of Utah.  

Local police from across Salt Lake Valley and the FBI responded to the scene. Officers first cleared the University of Utah Campus and lifted the shelter in place order at 3 a.m.

Police initially believed suspect Austin Boutain retreated to the hills above Red Butte Canyon. Officers conducted a manhunt of the hills on foot and with the assistance of a helicopter in an attempt to locate Boutain.  

University of Utah classes have been cancelled today while students recover from the ordeal and mourn the loss of their classmate.  

Austin Boutain was later found and taken into custody by police at 12:45 p.m.

Suspect Austin Boutain. Photo Courtesy of SLC Police Department.

Southern Utah University President Scott L. Wyatt assured students that SUU does have protocols in place in the unlikely event of an active shooter on campus. Wyatt stressed the fact that the shooting near the University of Utah was not a campus shooting or targeted toward students of the U of U.

President Wyatt said that though the victim of the shooting was an international student, international recruitment is not hindered.

“Cedar City is a much safer, rural environment,” Wyatt said. “When we go recruiting for international students we remind them that we live in a safer community than most universities in America. The rural, small community that we live in (is) a safer place.”

Director of International Student and Scholar Services Jamie Orton said although Guo was not targeted because he was an international student, it is a reminder that no campus is immune from tragedy.

“SUU International Affairs has made it a priority to make sure staff are available to meet with any students that have concerns stemming from the situation, along with many other departments across campus,” Orton said.

According to Orton, SUU has numerous measures in place to provide a safe environment for students. In addition to university wide efforts, International Affairs provides an Acculturation course that all new international students take. The program discusses, among other things, campus safety, which includes Title IX. The class invites the SUU Police Department to educate students on campus safety and precautions.

“International Affairs also helps incoming international students find safe housing on or close to campus,” Orton said. “We also have a strong communication system created that utilizes text, email and social media.”

SUU enrolls students from 56 countries and Orton said International Affairs anticipates additional questions or concerns about safety may arise during the recruitment process.

“What we can share with families is that Cedar City has low crime rates and the campus takes a lot of precautions to create a safe campus,” Orton said. “We are hopeful that this situation will not deter students from attending SUU so that our campus may continue to be enriched through diversity.”

For more information on protocols, Rick Brown, SUU chief of police, said emergency protocols are posted in several locations including every classroom and conference room.  

Story By
Mitchell Quartz & Samantha Burfiend