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‘Grabbed me by my hands:’ Man, 18, arrested after woman, 99 held hostage after shooting

WEST VALLEY CITY, Ut. — A man was arrested early Saturday morning, Feb. 24 after police say he barricaded himself inside a home and took a 99-year-old woman hostage.

Freddy Velasquez, 18, was arrested at about 5:20 a.m., Unified police officials said on Twitter.

At about 8 p.m. Friday, Unified police responded to a shooting near 2600 South Melville Drive in Magna, Unified police Lt. Brian Lohrke said.

There were no injuries in that shooting, but detectives later tracked a man who was involved in the shooting to an address near a hotel in West Valley City, Lohrke said.

There, officers made contact with Velasquez, but he got out of his car, took out a gun and then fled on foot into a residential neighborhood, Lohrke said.

Velasquez then shot out the back window of a home near 3500 S. 2200 West and went inside just before 1:45 a.m., police said. There were three or four people in the home who were able to get out, but a 99-year-old woman who is not very mobile was unable to get outside, Lohrke said.

“When I look back over it, it was very dangerous what we went through,” the 99-year-old woman said. “From my knowing, he was nearly 12. He was just scared I guess. He grabbed me by my hands and then I just sit on the floor on my bum so I don’t get hurt.”

Police then were considering the scene a hostage situation, and two swat teams, one from West Valley City and one from Unified police, were called in.

“I just got back in bed and he come in again and he tried to talk to me and I said ‘I can’t hear you. I can’t hear you.’ Then he realized I was a very old woman, and he was pretty nice to me after that,” she said.

Officers continued to negotiate with Velasquez, and the 99-year-old woman eventually was released unharmed at about 3:30 a.m., Lohrke said. As of 6:15 a.m., the woman was being evaluated but appeared to be OK, he said.

“My brother said I saved my life by doing that (talking to the suspect). Saved his life,” she said.

After the woman was released, Velasquez remained in the home and officers continued negotiating with him.

At about 5:20 a.m., Velasquez attempted to enter the garage of the home and get inside a vehicle in order to leave. Police had the garage blocked and Velasquez was unable to escape. He was then taken into custody.

Lohrke said it was good to see the situation end with minimal harm done to the woman, the man and the officers involved.

“We’re looking after the well-being of everyone in this situation,” Lohrke said. “This is how we like these to end with this whole negotiation. … We just want to keep the neighborhood safe.”