Man Fatally Shot By Passerby Was ‘Mentally Delayed,’ Friends Say

A 26-year-old Black Utah man was fatally shot by a passerby while involved in what the Daily Herald described as a domestic disturbance. Friends of the deceased say the lethal force was unnecessary.

According to reports, Jeremy Sorenson was on the ground fighting with an 18-year-old woman outside of an apartment building on Monday night. In the midst of the fight, a passerby came upon the quarreling duo and warned Sorenson to stop or he would shoot.

“At some point, the man in the vehicle produced a firearm and shot Sorensen twice,” officers say of the events, adding that Sorenson never responded to the passerby’s command. The Provo, UT resident was taken to the hospital for gunshot wounds, at least one of which landed in the chest. It was there that he was pronounced dead.

The 18-year-old woman involved in the case was also taken to the hospital for injuries she sustained during the fight. According to Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King, the two were “acquaintances” and the events left the woman “absolutely traumatized.”

Elizabeth Jenks, a church friend of Sorenson’s told the Salt Lake Tribune that the entire situation is “shocking.”

“Now that I’m thinking more about his communication difficulties, I think it came down to a processing delay,” Jenks offered as a reason for why Sorenson did not immediately stop fighting when warned by the passerby. “It took him a little bit to sit back and think about things.”

Jenks, whose husband is a pastor at the church Sorenson attended, added that she never knew of a formal diagnosis for the 26-year-old, but believed he was on the autism spectrum.

Police say the shooter, whose name they have not released, is cooperating with authorities. But friends of Sorenson say the situation should have never played out the way it did.

“Lethal action wasn’t necessary,” Haley Sotelo, another church friend told an SLT reporter. “The guy could have called the police and let them handle it. Or he could have pushed [Sorensen]. They did not have to use a gun. There wasn’t a weapon in sight. Not everything has to be met with gun violence.” She also added, “[I] honestly wonder if the shooter would have shot so quickly had Jeremy been white and not Black.”     

No charges have been filed in the case. It is now being reviewed by the Utah County Attorney’s Office.