Defendant shot, killed during gang trial in Salt Lake City


by Doug Stanglin and Kevin Johnson, USA Today

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 21 at 5:18 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (USA Today)-- A defendant in a gang-related trial was shot and critically wounded by a U.S. marshal Monday when he allegedly tried to attack a witness with a pen at the new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

FBI spokesman Mark Dressen said Siale Angilau, an alleged member of the Tongan Crip gang, was shot at least once in the chest. His condition was not immediately known.

"During the trial this morning the defendant went after, engaged the witness stand, and when he engaged the witness at the witness stand, he was shot by the U.S. Marshals Service," Dressen said.

"From what I understand, the defendant may have grabbed a pen or a pencil and charged the witness stand at that time," he said.
Salt Lake Courthouse Shooting

Alleged Tongan gang member Siale Angilau was shot by a U.S. marshal shot and critically wounded April 21, 2014, when he rushed the witness stand with a pen at his trial in Salt Lake City.(Photo: Utah Department of Corrections/AP)

Federal authorities confirmed that a U.S. marshal assigned to the court opened fire on Angilau. No one else was injured.

A spectator told the Salt Lake Tribune that the marshal fired eight shots after Angilau jumped up from the defense table, charged the witness stand and tried to punch the witness, who was wearing a prison jump suit and testifying about the gang and how it worked.

Angilau, 25, was on trial on racketeering charges in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Tena Campbell. Along with a string of robberies and assaults of local store clerks, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Angilau also was accused of shooting two U.S. marshals in 2007 and brandishing a firearm.

The incident prompted Campbell to declare a mistrial. She said in a brief order that U.S. marshals had continued to hold Siale Angilau at gunpoint near the jury box while jurors were still in the courtroom.

"The court has met with the jury and and observed that most of the jury members are visibly shaken and upset by this episode,'' the judge wrote. "The court finds that this occurrence in the courtroom would so prejudice Mr. Angilau as to deprive him of a fair trial."

Angilau's lawyer, Michael Langford, was not immediately available for comment. His office said the lawyer was "a bit shaken up but okay.''

The federal courthouse, which opened last week with upgraded security, was placed on lockdown.

The Angilau case was the last in a series of Tongan Crip-related trials that have been going on since 2007.

In 2011, a jury convicted seven members of the gang for robbery, assault and use of firearms during crimes of violence committed in support of an ongoing criminal organization, the Deseret News reports.

The newspaper says some jurors at the time feared retaliation from gang members and wanted assurances from the judge that they would be safe. A note from a juror asking for such assurances nearly caused a mistrial in the case, the News reports.