By Barbara Goldberg
(Reuters) – Hundreds of police officers poured into a canyon near the University of Utah’s Salt Lake City campus on Tuesday in a search for a gunman suspected of killing a student during a carjacking attempt.
The search shifted from the campus to Red Butte Canyon, a research area on the east side of the school, where classes were canceled on Tuesday following the shooting on Monday night, authorities said.
An overnight “secure-in-place” alert for the entire campus was lifted early on Tuesday.
University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy said the suspect, identified as Austin Boutain, 24, had assaulted his wife while camping in the canyon, which is used for research and has a public botanical garden, arboretum and hiking trails.
Brophy said Boutain then tried to hijack a car, fatally shooting ChenWei Guo, a pre-computer science student from China.
“ChenWei was parked near the gate in Red Butte Canyon when the suspect fatally shot him while attempting to hijack his vehicle,” University President David Pershing said in a statement.
Salt Lake City Police Detective Greg Wilking said the gunman did not take the car and fled on foot from the scene, just a few miles from downtown Salt Lake City.
Guo worked as a peer adviser in the International Student and Scholar Services Office, Pershing said. In his profile on WayUp, a social media site, Guo said he worked as an interpreter and technology supporter at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City.
The FBI and more than 200 law enforcement officers joined the hunt for Boutain, who police believe fled into the Wasatch Mountains, where Red Butte Canyon is located, and was “considered armed and dangerous,” Brophy said.
“We want to be sure we check all the nooks and crannies, anywhere this person might be hiding,” Brophy said. “We will continue our search until we are confident he’s not in the mountains or we find Mr. Boutain.”
Brophy declined to give more information about the suspect, including whether he was a student or where he lives.
Boutain’s wife approached campus police at about 8:15 p.m. on Monday to report being assaulted by her husband, Brophy said. She later was treated and was released, he said.
Shortly thereafter, police received reports of shots fired.
Commuter train services were suspended near the school, local media reported.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Angela Moon in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)