(Reuters) - A woman narrowly escaped from a 24-year-old drifter suspected of shooting and killing a University of Utah student from China during an attempted carjacking, police said on Wednesday.
The shooting late on Monday near the Salt Lake City campus triggered an order for students to shelter in place and led the Chinese government to repeat its warning to its citizens to be wary of violence in the United States.
Police believe suspect Austin Boutain tried to carjack ChenWei Guo, 23, and a woman in Guo’s parked vehicle, University of Utah Police Sergeant Garth Smith said at a news conference.
Boutain fatally shot Guo and then tried to force the woman, a university student whose name was not released, up a canyon, according to police. The woman escaped when Boutain, who fired at her twice and missed, was distracted, police said.
“Obviously, he had just killed somebody; he had an ill intent toward this young lady,” University of Utah Police Chief Dale Brophy told reporters.
Boutain and his wife, Kathleen Boutain, 23, are both in jail in the Salt Lake City area and are wanted in an investigation into another homicide in Golden, Colorado, police said.
Austin Boutain was booked on suspicion of murder and Kathleen Boutain is suspected of receiving stolen property and other crimes, Nick D‘Alesandro, who manages the homicide unit of the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office, said by phone.
They have not been formally charged, he said.
The Boutains are drifters who drove from Colorado, arriving in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Smith said.
The Boutains could not be reached for comment.
The Utah shooting occurred soon after the Boutains had a dispute while staying in a makeshift camp just outside the university, and she went to the campus to report she had been assaulted, Smith said.
Austin Boutain, after the shooting, escaped on foot and eventually made his way into downtown Salt Lake City, police said.
He left a handgun, believed to be the weapon used to shoot Guo, at a homeless shelter where it was stolen, police said.
Police are trying to find the weapon, which they believe was taken from the Colorado home of 63-year-old homicide victim Mitchell Bradford Ingle, whose body was found last week.
Boutain was arrested on Tuesday at a Salt Lake City library, police said. Kathleen Boutain was arrested on Monday.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Additional reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Cynthia Osterman