Shooting at Family History Library

Three people died and four others were wounded when a gunman opened fire inside the Church Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City April 15.

Killed during the random shooting was Donald Thomas, 62, of Westbrook 1st Ward, West Jordan Utah Westbrook Stake, who was an employee of 28 years with Church Security, and a female patron, Patricia Irene Frengs, 55, of Pleasant Hill, Calif. The suspect in the shooting, Sergei Babarin, 70, of Salt Lake City, died after an exchange of gunfire with police. At a press conference, Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corridini said that the suspect was believed to be schizophrenic and not taking his medication.

Witnesses said the incident began about 10:30 a.m. when a gunman walked into the first floor of the library, located across the street to the west of Temple Square, shot the woman sitting at the front desk and then fired randomly at others.

Church Security officers, under routine assignment at the building, immediately began moving visitors under tables and into rooms to get them out of the line of fire, said Clayton Newell of the Church Public Affairs Department.

Police officers, including special weapons and tactics teams, converged on the building. During ensuing gunfire, the suspect was shot; he died later from his wounds. One police officer suffered a minor gunshot wound in the fray.

The library and adjacent buildings, including a hotel and Temple Square, were evacuated as gunfire continued an hour after the shooting began. At one point in the morning, police reported that people were still trapped in the upper floors of the building.

Police locked down the LDS Church Office Building and evacuated the nearby Triad Center, and an office building where Church-owned KSL Television is located and from which it was broadcasting its live news coverage of the incident.

The reason for the evacuation, police said, was to investigate a truck thought to be connected to the incident that was suspected to contain a bomb. Later, it was discovered that it did not.

"This is so unexpected and tragic," commented Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Presidency of the Seventy, speaking to reporters at the scene late in the afternoon.

"We want to express the deepest sympathy to the families of those who were injured and particularly those who have been killed," added Elder Christofferson, who is executive director of the Church Family History Department.

Regarding Brother Thomas, he said President Gordon B. Hinckley had called his wife and expressed "our deepest sympathy and condolences to her. He leaves four children. We're just devastated at his death and saddened by all that's happened to those who have been injured or traumatized by what took place."

Elder Christofferson said the library would be closed until Monday, April 19, to allow law enforcment officials to conclude their investigation.

Eileen Gardner of the Bountiful (Utah) 28th Ward, a member of the Tabernacle Choir, was among a group held for an hour on the second floor of the library while police feared that a second gunman might be in the building. They were locked in the special collections room for their protection.

"We had special prayer, individually and as a group," she said. "There were a lot of people here from California with the genealogy conference (of the Utah Genealogical Society) and they were worried about the rest of their group on the first floor."

She said that although the news media had announced that the gunman was apprehended, security told them he was "going up the stairs, [to the second floor].

I thought, 'If he finds me, so be it. I had the faith that if it was my time to go, it was my time to go."

Margaret Kane of Olympia, Wash., who is not LDS but who has children in the Salt Lake area who are members, was on the first floor doing research in the United States reference area when the gunman entered.

"He just came in and started shooting people," she said. "He went toward the classrooms with glass partitions and shot a gentleman. Then he shot through the windows into the research area. I was praying that he didn't come in the door and start shooting at those under the tables — you have no place to go.

"He wasn't yelling or anything. You could just wonder what's wrong, what initiated all this. He was just wandering, muttering to himself. Obviously, he was not a well man."

Fran and Tom Wilson of Bloomfield, Mich., who are not LDS, were on the first floor when the gunman entered.

"I was in the ladies room and I heard gunshots," Mrs. Wilson said. "A lady came running in and said, 'Everybody who is in here stay in here. A man just followed me in the main lobby and he is shooting.' There were gunshots. My husband was in the main lobby and he saw the gunman and he helped people get down and get out. Finally, the gunshots stopped and we got out. There was a body lying in front of the door to the library.

"It was a shock to have it happen here, especially."