SALT LAKE CITY, UT (Deseret News) – A convenience store clerk was stabbed and killed early Wednesday and a friend was also stabbed during a confrontation outside the store, police said.
Tukka Gonne, of Salt Lake City, the man accused of killing the clerk, is only 21, but already has multiple arrests for assault and alcohol-related offenses.
Police have not yet released the names of the victims, but the clerk was identified by family and friends as 40-year-old Joseph “Joey” Allen.
The incident happened at Maverik, 1270 S. Main, about 3:30 a.m.
A group of four people was hanging out at the store before the confrontation occurred.
“There were some issues with them being on the property,” said Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking. “They were asked to leave and a fight broke out.”
When the clerk and his friend who was with him went outside the store, the friend pulled out something that appeared to be a pipe, Wilking said.
“The surviving victim was holding a long cylindrical object, later discovered to be a metal rod, in his hand. He then swings or throws the object at the males,” a Salt Lake County Jail report states. One of the victims was then knocked to the ground and a fight ensued in the parking lot.
Surveillance video shows the group of four then moving from the northeast end of the parking lot to the southwest end, the report states.
That’s when Gonne pulled out a knife and stabbed the two men, Wilking said.
“The video shows (Gonne) come up behind the victims with a large shiny object in his right hand. (Gonne) thrusts the object toward the victims,” according to the report. “One victim is taken into the store, where he collapses and dies. The surviving victim was stabbed several times.”
In this case, Wilking said detectives don’t believe an argument of self-defense is valid because Gonne and the others had the chance to walk away rather than engage in a fight.
The friend was hospitalized in serious but stable condition. “He’s expected to hopefully recover,” Wilking said.
Detectives tracked down Gonne and a teenager in a nearby neighborhood and arrested them about 4:10 a.m.
Gonne was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of murder, aggravated assault and interfering with an arresting officer.
The teenager was questioned and later released, but Wilking said he could face charges later in the juvenile system related to the fight, but not the homicide. The search continued Wednesday for two others believed to be present during the confrontation.
“He leaves behind two twin girls, two more daughters and a son that looked up to him,” an emotional Chrystal Cook said of the clerk after dropping off flowers at the convenience store Wednesday. “Family was everything to him. I feel really bad for his family. They were all really close.”
She said the father was engaged to be married and the friend who was stabbed is related to his fiancee.
“It is with great sadness that Maverik had a valued member of our team killed last night at our store,” the company said in a prepared statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Maverik said it was providing assistance and grief counselors to employees “who may be feeling overwhelmed.”
Gonne’s arrest is the latest in a series of recent confrontations with police.
In June, he was charged in Salt Lake Justice Court with assault, a class B misdemeanor. A warrant was issued for his arrest on June 24 when he failed to show up for court.
On May 31 he pleaded guilty to failing to stop for law enforcement, a class A misdemeanor. He is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on July 19.
On Jan. 13, Gonne was arrested for assault in a domestic-related fight. A charge was filed but dismissed on June 28 when the state’s witness did not show up to court, according to court records.
Gonne was convicted in October of unauthorized control of a vehicle for extended period of time and was sentenced to 20 days in jail plus probation.
Also in 2018, Gonne was charged with intoxication in both February and June. He was convicted of purchasing, possessing or consuming alcohol by a minor in September, in a separate case in August, and in yet another in October, according to court records.
*Though the preceding report did not reflect this information, Tukka Gonne came to this country from the Ivory Coast.