SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Police searched Wednesday for a driver who barreled into a crowd of people on a Salt Lake City sidewalk and killed a woman, one of a series of violent run-ins that led a top lawmaker to call for the state to confront crime near an overcrowded homeless shelter.
The hunt for the driver who ran from the crash that injured five others near The Road Home shelter came days after a homeless man attacked a minor-league baseball player with a crowbar during an attempted robbery in the same area.
State House Speaker Greg Hughes said he’s frustrated and concerned about the violence and that state leaders could discuss a possible role for the National Guard in bringing order if the situation doesn’t change.
“I don’t think we’re going to nice our way out of this,” he said.
The gentrifying downtown neighborhood near the arena where the NBA’s Utah Jazz play has long been a concern for authorities, but Hughes said the problem has gotten especially bad in recent years.
Police were investigating whether the driver intentionally drove onto the sidewalk Tuesday, Detective Robert Ungricht said. The car stopped when it hit a tree, and the woman got out and ran away, police said.
One person was critically injured in the crash but was expected to survive. The other four victims suffered minor injuries like cuts and bruises, he said. The name of the woman who died at the scene was not immediately released, pending notification of her family.
A passenger in the car stayed behind and cooperated with investigators. The driver is described as a white woman who is 5 foot 5 and wearing a red tank top and blue denim shorts.
Officers say they were searching for Shutney Lee Kyzer, 37, whom they call a person of interest.
No phone number was publicly listed for her, and a lawyer who previously represented her in a different case didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
A memorial near the scene of the crash honored the woman who died with a wreath of yellow flowers and handwritten messages.
“She was my best friend. We were helping each other get off drugs,” said Anthony Archuleta, 50, adding that the woman was due to get housing off the streets later this month.
Authorities say the area is frequented by drug dealers and has been hit by violence, including a police shooting that crucially wounded a teenage refugee.
“I just feel like we’re being targeted by people because we’re homeless, we’re drug addicts,” China Edwards said.
Days earlier, Logan Taylor with the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, was hit in the head about a mile away and suffered a concussion, Salt Lake City police said. A homeless man was arrested.