Police say security guard killed trespasser after downtown fight

A security guard accused of getting into a fight and killing a man by shooting him in the back after asking him to le...

Posted: Jun 23, 2018 8:36 AM
Updated: Jun 23, 2018 8:36 AM

A security guard accused of getting into a fight and killing a man by shooting him in the back after asking him to leave the property was arrested Wednesday for investigation of murder.

Timothy Richard Lutes, 26, was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail and accused of shooting Thomas Ray Stanfield, 54, twice as Stanfield was walking away from him, according to Salt Lake Police Sgt. Brandon Shearer.

Stanfield had been living in the downtown homeless shelter, according to his daughter, Michelle Higgins.

The confrontation happened about 5:25 a.m. Lutes, who works for Citadel Security, was attempting to remove a trespasser near the plaza area between the Heber Wells and Department of Workforce Services buildings, on 300 South between 140 East and 160 East, Shearer said.

Although those are public buildings, both were closed at the time. The property can be closed to the public, similar to a park after hours, to deter activities such as camping or loitering, he said.

Lutes, who is originally from Ephraim, encountered Stanfield in front of the Workforce Services building "underneath the covered area of the southeast corner," according to a jail report.

Lutes kept his flashlight on Stanfield, which apparently aggravated him, Shearer said.

"Timothy stated that the victim became verbally aggressive toward him and then physically aggressive as he punched Timothy in the face," the report states.

In his mug shot, Lutes has obvious injuries to his face, including a black eye and cut nose. Shearer said the fight went on for "quite some time."

"Timothy and the victim ended up on the ground where Timothy states the victim removed his holster containing his firearm from his belt and pointed it at him," according to the report.

The incident was recorded on a nearby surveillance camera. Shearer said after further investigation, detectives determined that Stanfield was trying to leave the scene, but Lutes continued to interact with him.

"Detectives reviewed video of this incident, which shows the victim walking away from Timothy several times and each time contact is reinitiated by Timothy," the report states. "Prior to the shooting, the victim is standing upright, facing away from Timothy and takes several steps away from him as Timothy fires his firearm, hitting the victim two times in the upper left side of his back. The victim dies at the scene."

It was unknown Wednesday whether Stanfield was armed, but Higgins said he was not.

"I was heartbroken. I literally just dropped down and started crying," Higgins told the Deseret News. "What else do you do? You just lost your father to murder."

She said she was happy to see officers' quick response in arresting Lutes.

"And I want him to know that I do forgive him, I do," she said. "I feel like he acted out of anger and I hope he gets help."

Higgins said she wishes Utah would do more for homeless people like her father.

"They're not doing anything. That could have been easily prevented," she said. "He could've gotten help from the state, but this society is just so backward nowadays, I feel like."

Citadel Security issued a prepared statement saying it is cooperating with the police investigation and expressed "heartfelt grief for the individual that lost their life."

Contributing: Ladd Egan

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