February 12th, 2013
12:46 PM ET

3 bodies found in Salt Lake City area home

Three people have been found dead in a suburban Salt Lake City home and a fourth victim has been taken to a hospital with a gunshot wound, Lt. Justin Hoyal of the Salt Lake Unified Police said Tuesday.

Police say David Fresques, 25, is a person of interest in the case. They are also looking for a second person they did not name.

There is speculation the deaths may be drug related.

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Filed under: Crime • Utah
BYU student video on homosexuality is not in violation of honor code, says administrator
One unnamed male student in the BYU video says he had thoughts of suicide.
April 10th, 2012
07:44 AM ET

BYU student video on homosexuality is not in violation of honor code, says administrator

The students featured in a video about being gay at Brigham Young University are not in obvious violation of the honor code, according to Carri Jenkins, an assistant to the president of BYU.

Jenkins went on to say that for the video alone, the students would not be punished. The honor code, Jenkins said, is “based on conduct, not on feeling, and if same-gender attraction is only stated, that is not an honor code issue.”

All BYU students sign on to the honor code upon enrollment. The code outlaws premarital sex and breaking the code “may result in actions up to and including separation from the university.”

“Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the honor code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings,” reads the honor code.

The 9 minute, 37 second video features a number of gay, lesbian and bisexual students around BYU and is part of the larger “It Gets Better” video campaign started by writer Dan Savage. The project was started in response to a rash of suicides of teenagers who were bullied for being gay. The goal of the videos is to let people know they are not alone and that life gets better.

“It is very different to be gay and Mormon because it feels like neither community accepts you completely,” said Bridey Jensen, acting president of the group Understanding Same-Gender Attraction. “We put out the message for youth that are going through this and we want them to know that we were them a few years ago and it gets better and there is a place for you.”

Jensen’s organization is not recognized by the university, but she did say that professors and administrators have been supportive of what the group is trying to do.

The BYU video is unique in the fact that it discusses being gay at a university that has consistently been ranked as the most unfriendly campus for LGBT students in the country, according to Princeton Review.

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Filed under: Religion • Utah
Freestyle ski champ dies week after injury
January 19th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Freestyle ski champ dies week after injury

[Updated at 4:44 p.m. ET] A Canadian freestyle skier who was seriously injured during practice in Utah last week has died, her family said Thursday in a statement released by her publicist.

Sarah Burke, 29, died Thursday morning at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she had been treated for injuries she suffered during a training run at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe.

Burke reportedly fell while trying a trick and "whiplashed" onto her side at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe on January 10, officials have said. She ruptured a vertebral artery in the fall, leading to an intracranial hemorrhage that caused her to go into cardiac arrest at the accident site, according to a statement released by her publicist, Nicole Wool.

Emergency workers gave her CPR at the site, during which time she remained without a pulse or voluntary breathing. She was taken to a hospital, where she was put on life support and underwent successful surgery to repair the artery one of four major arteries supplying blood to the brain - the next day, according to the statement.

But after the surgery, tests determined she suffered "irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after cardiac arrest," the statement reads.

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School scraps 'Cougars' as mascot after complaints that it's derogatory
Students chose the cougar as their mascot, but some parents complained about the term's use in regard to women.
January 19th, 2012
02:31 PM ET

School scraps 'Cougars' as mascot after complaints that it's derogatory

It's tough to pick a mascot these days.

Over the past few years we've seen several instances of schools being pressured to change their mascots because of cultural sensitives like Miami University of Ohio having to go through a 25-year process to change from the Redskins to the Redhawks.

But we've never heard of a mascot that offended, well, older women.

The Corner Canyon High School in Draper, Utah, needed to choose a mascot and after 23% of students who voted decided they wanted to be the Corner Canyon Cougars. Falcons, Raptors and Diamondbacks were the other choices on the ballot.

But that didn't sit well with parents who called in and complained that "Cougar" was a derogatory word because of how it's made its way into our vocabulary for older women who like to date younger men.

"We have received numerous e-mail messages and phone calls from parents and patrons in Draper asking us to reconsider the inclusion of 'Cougars' as a mascot option," David S. Doty, superintendent of the Canyons School District, wrote in a memo to the Board of Education. "Opposition to the 'Cougars' focuses on a concern that the mascot, combined with the school’s blue/white/silver color scheme, will be too similar to Brigham Young University. Many also have commented on the negative double entendre of the word 'cougar.'"

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Filed under: Animals • Utah
More tests planned on injured ski champ Sarah Burke
Skier Sarah Burke arrives at The 2011 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles in July.
January 16th, 2012
12:36 PM ET

More tests planned on injured ski champ Sarah Burke

The family of freestyle ski champ Sarah Burke canceled a planned news conference Monday as they await the results of further tests on the injured athlete, an official for the University of Utah hospital said.

Burke was critically injured during practice in Utah last week.  She had successful surgery Wednesday to repair a vertebral artery tear, which had caused bleeding in her skull, the hospital said.

On Friday, the hospital said there would be a press conference concerning Burke on Monday. But Monday morning that was canceled.

"Late last night, Rory Bushfield, Sarah's husband, and members of her family met with physicians to discuss the results of Sarah's most recent neurological tests and assessments. Based on the information they received, we regret to inform you that they have decided to cancel today's press conference in order for further tests to be conducted this morning and in the coming days," according to an e-mail from hospital spokeswoman Nicole Wool.

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Freestyle ski champ still critical after surgery
Sarah Burke, 28, suffered serious injuries in a fall during training at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah.
January 12th, 2012
01:33 PM ET

Freestyle ski champ still critical after surgery

A Canadian freestyle skier who was critically injured during practice in Utah this week had successful surgery Wednesday to repair a vertebral artery tear, which had caused bleeding in her skull, a statement released by her publicist said Thursday.

Sarah Burke, 29, still was in critical condition Thursday at University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, two days after her fall during a training run at Park City Mountain Resort's superpipe, according to the statement.

The statement was the first to give details of Burke's injuries. The tear in Burke's artery in her neck, which supplies blood to the brain, caused an intracranial hemorrhage, the statement said.

"With injuries of this type, we need to observe the course of her brain function before making definitive pronouncements about Sarah’s prognosis for recovery," said Dr. William T. Couldwell, who performed Wednesday's surgery and is neurosurgery chair at University of Utah. "Our Neuro Critical Care team will be monitoring her condition and response continuously over the coming hours and days."

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Reports: Freestyle ski champ remains in coma after fall
Sarah Burke shows off her gold medal after winning the Women's Skiing Superpipe at Winter X Games in Colorado, in 2009.
January 11th, 2012
04:21 PM ET

Reports: Freestyle ski champ remains in coma after fall

[Updated at 4:21 p.m. ET] Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke remains in critical condition a day after suffering a serious fall during a training run in Park City, Utah, according to the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

Local media reports said she had been in a coma in a Salt Lake City hospital.

“Sarah sustained serious injuries and remains intubated and sedated in critical condition,” Safdar Ansari, a neurointensivist with University of Utah Health Care, said in a statement released by the Canadian Freestyle organization.

Hospital officials declined to give further details on her condition.

Burke, 28, reportedly fell after completing a trick on the superpipe at the Park City Mountain Resort and "whiplashed" on to her side, officials said. The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said they couldn't be sure exactly what happened just yet. A resort spokesman said she sustained a serious injury and was taken by helicopter to the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City.

The star's husband, Rory Bushfield, and other members of her family are with her in the hospital, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

“Sarah is a very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover,” Bushfield said in a statement.

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said that it did not have any word on specifically what happened to cause the injury but that it was told Burke wasn't doing any new tricks or anything out of the ordinary at the time of the incident.

News of her injury was weighing heavily not just on her family and friends but on the entire industry, the association said.

“We’re a bit shell-shocked right now,” Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, told the Toronto Star. “It’s tough to read. The signs are dramatic and catastrophic, but it’s hard to gauge how dramatic and catastrophic. The same treatment and symptoms can be on a broad scale.”

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Man shot after dog causes gun to go off
A duck hunter in Utah ended up on the wrong end of his shotgun over the Thanksgiving weekend.
December 1st, 2011
12:15 PM ET

Man shot after dog causes gun to go off

A Utah hunter was on the mend Wednesday after surviving a gunshot wound from man’s best friend - yes, a dog.

While authorities don't know all the particulars, this much is certain, hospital crews had to extract 27 pellets of birdshot from the man, according to news reports.

The incident happened over the weekend when two men and a canine set up to go duck-hunting in the Great Salt Lake near a bird refuge outside Brigham City, according to CNN affiliate KSL.

Before the hunting could commence, one of the men, a 46-year-old from Brigham City, got out of his boat and laid his 12-gauge shotgun across the bow of the vessel, KSL reported.

From there, it gets weird.

"The dog got excited, was jumping around inside the boat and then it jumped on the gun. It went off, shooting the (man) in the buttocks," Box Elder County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Kevin Potter told the Salt Lake City Tribune. The man was apparently setting up decoys when the gun went off, said Potter.

But how – exactly – did this happen?

The dog "did something to make the gun discharge," Potter told KSL. "I don't know if the safety device was on. It's not impossible the dog could have taken it off safety," he was quoted as saying.

Sunday's accident wasn't the only strange occurrence over the Thanksgiving weekend involving outdoorsmen. In North Carolina, fishermen encountered a great white shark - but it didn't shoot them.

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Filed under: Animals • Dogs • U.S. • Utah
Gotta Watch: To the rescue
In Utah, passers-by lifted a BMW, dragging an injured motorcyclist out, who had collided with the car.
September 13th, 2011
03:36 PM ET

Gotta Watch: To the rescue

The most popular video on CNN.com Tuesday showed a group of daring citizens who proved that, in the face of danger, the average person can become a modern-day hero. On a busy street in Utah, 21-year-old Brandon Wright crashed his motorcycle into a BMW, pinning him underneath the burning car. Seconds later, passers-by sprang into action, lifting the car and dragging him to safety. Last night, CNN's Piers Morgan spoke to three of the men who saved Wright and got an update on Wright's condition from his uncle.

In today's Gotta Watch, we take a look at other good Samaritans helping those in need as fear subsides and adrenaline takes over.

Close call in canal crash – Last summer, 17-year old Jasmine Gonzalez's Chevy Cobalt careened off a Florida interstate into a canal, trapping her inside. A couple saw it happen and rescued her using the only tool they could find.

'A complete team effort' – In 2009, a mother of two crashed her SUV into a tree. It caught fire, but as luck would have it, two off-duty firefighters were among a group of bystanders who helped save the day.

Subway Samaritan: 'I'm no hero' – Wesley Autry's subway rescue earned him an invitation to President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address. He was also named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people. Talk about good karma!


Filed under: Florida • Uncategorized • Utah • Wisconsin
July 26th, 2011
10:39 PM ET

U.S. skier Jeret Peterson shot himself to death, police say

Aerial skier and Olympic silver medalist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, a spokesman for the Utah Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake said.

Police responded to a 911 call Monday night from Peterson, who said he was going to commit suicide and gave them his location in Lambs Canyon, Lt. Justin Hoyal said.

He was already dead by the time officers arrived at 11:30 p.m. ET, Hoyal said.

"This is a sad day for Boise and for all of us who admired Speedy Peterson's accomplishments, both on the slopes and in his life," said, Boise Mayor Mayor David H. Bieter, who presented Peterson with the Key to the City last year after he medaled in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

"The hundreds of kids who came to City Hall to shake Speedy's hand after he medaled in Vancouver last year are a living testament to his power to inspire and motivate. It is truly tragic that, in the end, there was one hill he wasn't able to conquer. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Peterson won a silver medal in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games for freestyle skiing after pulling off his signature move, the Hurricane.

Peterson picked up the nickname "Speedy" at a summer ski camp in Lake Placid, New York, in the mid-1990s because coaches thought he resembled the cartoon character "Speed Racer" with a big helmet, according to the United States Ski and Snowboard Association website. He won the 1999 U.S. Junior Championship and took bronze at two straight World Junior Championships in 2000 and 2001.

His life was not without tragedy. He reportedly considered suicide after losing $550,000 in blackjack earnings, according to The New York Times. His half-sister died in a drunken driving accident when he was 5. A friend committed suicide at his house, in front of him.

"The personal challenges Speedy has battled are familiar to all of us, and on behalf of the U.S. Olympic Committee, I'd like to offer my sympathy to Speedy's family and friends. Today is a sad day," U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.

"I know Speedy's friends and family were incredibly proud of his effort in Vancouver, and his achievements were an inspiration to people all over the world."

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Filed under: Sports • Utah
Police say man sent Facebook updates during 16-hour standoff
Police say Jason Valdez made posts to his Facebook wall while he was in an armed standoff with them.
June 22nd, 2011
07:18 PM ET

Police say man sent Facebook updates during 16-hour standoff

The Ogden, Utah, Police Department says an armed man posted Facebook status updates from his phone while engaged in a 16-hour standoff with them over the weekend.

Jason Valdez, 36, issued six status updates, added 15 friends and responded to numerous comments posted by worried family and friends while police were engaged in a siege at an Ogden motel Saturday morning. Police say the person in the standoff and the person making those updates was Valdez.

"I'm currently in a stand off wit these shady [expletive] from old, kinda ugly but ready for whatever, I love u guyz and if I don't make it out of here alive that I'm in a better place and u were all great friends," Valdez posted at 1:23 a.m. via an Android phone.

The incident started when police officers attempted to serve a felony warrant for failure to appear in court on a drug-related charge and Valdez barricaded himself in the motel room, Ogden police Lt. Danielle Croyle said.

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Filed under: Crime • Hostages • Utah
June 19th, 2011
03:01 PM ET

7 states face extreme fire risk Sunday

Firefighters across the southwestern United States on Sunday could face some of the worst weather conditions of the season for battling blazes currently raging across the region.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for most of Arizona, all of New Mexico, much of north Texas and portions of Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and Utah for Sunday. A red flag warning means weather conditions - mainly high heat, low humidity and strong winds - pose an extreme fire risk.

"The winds certainly will be very gusty and strong," said Ken Daniel, NWS meteorologist in Flagstaff, Arizona. "Any new fire starts would have the potential to have explosive growth."

Dozens of wildfires already are burning in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, according to InciWeb, an online interagency database that tracks fires, floods and other disasters.

Sunday's forecast calls for winds of 30 mph or more in some areas, with gusts of up to 50 mph, Daniel said.

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Filed under: Arizona • Colorado • Kansas • New Mexico • Oklahoma • Texas • Utah
Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform
These little girls are U.S.-born American citizens, but their father lacks proper immigration documentation.
June 14th, 2011
11:07 AM ET

Undocumented parents sweat out debate on immigration reform

Tough new state immigration laws are striking fear in the hearts of illegal immigrants with American-born children.

“I worry about my children,” says one father of two young kids in Carrollton, Georgia. He didn't want to give his name, because he has no legal right to reside in the United States. “My kids were born here. What will happen with them? We don’t know, and that’s the fear we have.”

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Filed under: Alabama • Arizona • Georgia • Immigration • Politics • Utah
Man finds at least $40,000 in ammo boxes, returns it
The money was found inside eight ammo boxes in a Utah man's attic.
May 20th, 2011
02:51 PM ET

Man finds at least $40,000 in ammo boxes, returns it

Most people expect to find spiders or old boxes of junk in their attics. But a Utah man found at least $40,000 in cash.

Josh Ferrin recently purchased a home in the appropriately dubbed Bountiful, Utah, and noticed an access panel into the attic.  That's where he found the money, packed into eight ammo boxes, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

After briefly pondering his own needs, including fixing his house and his car, he decided to do what was right.

“I couldn’t let myself consider the money mine,” Ferrin told the Tribune.  "(The previous homeowner) didn’t put it there for me. He put it there for a rainy day.”

It turns out the previous owner, Arnold Bangerter, was a father of six, who bought the home in the 1960s and had died in November.

“I knew he was a father, and I am a father, too. And I can understand thinking about the future and your children,” Ferrin said.

Ferrin tracked down Bangerter’s youngest son, Dennis, and his brother, Kay, who said they would split the money between the six siblings. He wasn’t sure how much money he handed over, because he stopped counting bills at $40,000, and there were stocks, bonds and about 50 pounds of coins in the ammo boxes.

“Hopefully, they won’t hide it in their ceiling,” Ferrin joked.

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Filed under: Utah
Did Jimmer become too popular for class?
April 14th, 2011
03:49 AM ET

Did Jimmer become too popular for class?

College basketball standout and BYU senior Jimmer Fredette certainly has star power, collecting player-of-the-year awards after leading the nation in scoring this past season. And if his father is to be believed, he became too popular on his own campus to attend class.

Al Fredette, Jimmer's father, told the Glens Falls (New York) Post-Star that Jimmer (pictured) resorted to doing all his Brigham Young University schoolwork online because requests for autographs and photographs were getting out of hand.

"It was getting too disruptive," Al Fredette said, according to the Post-Star. "He can't go anywhere in Provo (Utah) without being recognized."

As the report notes, missing class wouldn't be unusual for a NBA-bound player after the college season ends, and working outside of class isn't odd for any well-traveled collegiate athlete. But the elder Fredette said the school asked Jimmer to stop appearing in class, according to the paper.

That's not the case, BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins told CNN Wednesday.

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Filed under: Basketball • College basketball • Sports • Utah
Study: Yellowstone volcano much larger than believed
This new image shows Yellowstone's volcanic plume reaching about 400 miles from east to west.
April 13th, 2011
09:35 AM ET

Study: Yellowstone volcano much larger than believed

A new kind of image suggests the giant volcanic plume lying under Yellowstone National Park is even bigger than previously thought.

University of Utah geophysicists used the electrical conductivity of the huge tongue of hot and partly molten rock to create an image. That image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with seismic waves.

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Filed under: Earth • Environment • Idaho • Montana • Nature • Science • U.S. • Utah • Volcanoes • Wyoming
BYU basketball faithful still love Davies
Brandon Davies, right, takes a shot against UNLV in January. He was suspended last week for the remainder of the season.
March 7th, 2011
01:01 PM ET

BYU basketball faithful still love Davies

Brandon Davies, who was suspended from the Brigham Young Cougars basketball team last week for an honor code violation, sat with his team for the last regular season game against Wyoming this weekend.

And the crowd went wild.

Davies was allowed to sit on the bench Saturday with his teammates, and about 5,000 students chanted “We love Brandon!” and “We love Davies” before the game and during timeouts, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

After the game, during which No. 3 BYU clinched a conference title, the street-clothes-clad sophomore forward climbed up the ladder to help cut down the net. “Davies! Davies!” the crowd roared.
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Filed under: College basketball • Education • Religion • Sports • U.S. • Utah
No. 3 BYU loses after dismissing player for honor code violation
Brigham Young University center Brandon Davies has been suspended for the rest of the season.
March 3rd, 2011
11:11 AM ET

No. 3 BYU loses after dismissing player for honor code violation

Sticking to principles appears to carry a steep cost for the nation's third-ranked college basketball team.

A day after Brigham Young University dismissed center Brandon Davies from the team for violating the school's strict honor code, the No. 3-ranked Cougars were throttled Wednesday by unranked New Mexico.

"The honor code really reflects who we are as a university. It defines us and it does make us different," BYU spokeswoman Carrie Jenkins told CNN affiliate KSTU-TV.

Davies, a 6-9 sophomore from Provo, was the team's top rebounder and third-leading scorer. He received the Cougars' Academic Excellence award last season, according to an online profile.

BYU had been gunning for a high seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, but the team's fortunes took a tumble with Wednesday night's 82-64 loss to New Mexico.

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Filed under: College basketball • Religion • Sports • Utah
Reports: Utah Jazz ship Deron Williams to New Jersey Nets
Deron Williams, seen playing for the West in Sunday's All-Star Game, is reportedly heading East.
February 23rd, 2011
12:08 PM ET

Reports: Utah Jazz ship Deron Williams to New Jersey Nets

The Utah Jazz, fewer than two weeks after losing their Hall of Fame head coach, have shipped their point guard, one of the best in the league, to the New Jersey Nets, several sources are reporting.

The Jazz are expected to receive point guard Devin Harris, forward Derrick Favor, two future first-round picks and cash as part of a deal for Deron Williams, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. Reports indicate the Golden State Warriors also pounded out a deal with the Nets, who were purchased last year by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

SI.com reports that the deal comes as a surprise - there were no whispers of it over the All-Star weekend - and dubbed the trade "a home run for Jersey."

The news comes on the heels of the Nets losing their bid to acquire the Denver Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony, who will be joining the New York Knicks after a three-way deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Williams trade also follows widespread speculation that Jerry Sloan, who coached the Jazz for 23 years before retiring earlier this month, stepped down because of static with Williams. Both the player and ex-coach have denied the reports.

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Filed under: Basketball • California • NBA • New Jersey • Sports • Utah
Utah may adopt a state gun
Utah is trying to adopt the Browning M1911 handgun as its state gun 100 years after the U.S. Army began using it.
January 26th, 2011
06:38 PM ET

Utah may adopt a state gun

Utah has a state flower, a state fossil, a state cooking pot and 21 other official symbols. It might soon add a state gun.

The state House passed a measure Wednesday, by a 51-19 vote, that would make the Browning M1911 pistol - designed by Utah’s John Moses Browning in the early 20th century - the state firearm. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer, has said the measure aims to honor Browning. His M1911 was used as a standard U.S. Army sidearm from 1911 to 1985, according to the Browning manufacturing company's website and Jane's Infantry Weapons.



The measure has attracted criticism from anti-gun activists and some state House members. Some lawmakers argued in debate Wednesday that it was insensitive after the January 8 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that killed six and wounded 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

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