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Police link unsolved murder to Salt Lake market shooting

Unified Police say the shooting death of Akosita Kaufusi, whose body was found near Saltair in Magna in 2020, is linked to a shooting at a Salt Lake City market days earlier. (Carissa Hutchinson, KSLTV)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Unified Police say they believe an unsolved homicide and a shooting at a Salt Lake market days earlier are related.

But detectives are not revealing many other details about the connection between the murder of Akosita Kaufusi, 42, whose body was found by a jogger near the Great Saltair in 2020, and a shooting that occurred at around the same time at the K&K African Market, 996 S. Redwood Road.

Police said, however, that Kaufusi frequently visited this market.

Kaufusi’s body was discovered on August 29, 2020, just off Frontage Road near Saltair. An autopsy determined that she had been shot in the head and had been dead for several days before her body was discovered. No one has been arrested in this case, despite a $5,000 reward being offered for information leading to the conviction of the person or persons responsible.

On Thursday, Unified Police released a brief statement saying detectives “linked” Kaufusi’s shooting death to a shooting at the K&K Market on August 9, 2020.

Police were called to the market at around 6.20am after being informed of a shooting. The victim, however, claimed his injury was caused by falling on rebar, according to a Salt Lake Police Watch Log report.

“Witnesses at the scene said there was an argument between the victim and several Polynesian men and heard what sounded like a gunshot,” the report said.

The man was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Detectives recovered a casing from the scene.

Police have not explained why they believe the two incidents are linked. However, Unified Police issued a public appeal on Thursday asking anyone with information about the shooting to come forward.

According to police reports, Salt Lake City officers also responded to a report of shots being fired in the K&K market two days earlier on August 7, 2020.

“When they arrived, they were unable to locate a victim or find any witnesses. A casing was located at the scene. Shortly after, a gunshot victim arrived at a local hospital. Officers n ‘were unable to interview the victim,’ according to a watchdog report.

Unified Police detectives have interviewed several people since Kaufusi’s death. Family members told investigators that Kaufusi had been missing for two weeks before her body was discovered, which was “out of the ordinary” for her because “she is usually at the African market and easy to find”, according to the sources. search warrant affidavits.

Based on the evidence gathered so far, detectives believe Kaufusi was killed around or shortly after August 14, 2020. Unified Police acknowledged Friday that Kaufusi and her associates were often at the K&K Market, but do not believe she was shot there.

Several people interviewed by police said Kaufusi was killed “because she had a drug debt or was robbed and killed for drugs, and/or both,” the warrants say. Unified Police said as of Friday no such motive had been confirmed or ruled out.

Police were also told by multiple people that Kaufusi “had a physical fight a few days before she was last seen alive around the day of August 13,” according to one of the warrants.

Anyone with information about Kaufusi’s death is asked to call police at 801-743-7000.

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Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion