ST. GEORGE – Deputy Washington County Attorney Ryan Shaum discussed details Friday surrounding a fatal shooting that occurred in Leeds in July and a decision that has been made by the Washington County Attorney’s Office not to bring any charges in the case.
“Once all the evidence did come in, we affirmed what it appeared from the beginning, and that was a self-defense claim,” Shaum said.
The investigation into the July shooting was quietly resolved in September, and the Washington County Attorney’s Office determined, based on the evidence, that the man who had committed the shooting, a retired law enforcement officer not from Southern Utah, had acted in self-defense.
The incident occurred at a residence on Silverado Court in Leeds just after 8 p.m. on July 17. Leeds resident Stephen Aizenberg, 70, reportedly approached his neighbor’s home armed with a handgun, pointing the weapon at the home’s occupants and a man and several women who were visiting there, according to information from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at the time the shooting occurred. When Aizenberg continued approaching with his weapon drawn, one of the visitors, a retired law enforcement officer, drew a gun he was carrying and shot Aizenberg. Aizenberg was pronounced dead at the scene.
The reason Aizenberg approached his neighbor’s home with a drawn weapon remains unknown to investigators.
“I think that is a question that everyone, including (Aizenberg’s) family, is asking,” Shaum said. “We’re not quite sure. We can speculate, but we’re not quite sure.”
Shaum said the only possible motive the County Attorney’s Office has speculatively deduced from the evidence is that possibly Aizenberg didn’t recognize his neighbor’s visitors and, therefore, thought they were intruders and was investigating the situation when the shooting occurred.
“There could be other reasons,” Shaum said, “but there was nothing to suggest the shooter had ever met Mr. Aizenberg before.”
“It was just an unfortunate accident,” he added.
Shaum said nothing in Aizenberg’s autopsy report and nothing in the physical evidence collected at the scene suggested anything other than self-defense had been a factor in the shooting.
“There weren’t any red flags that came up in the case at all,” he said.
Shaum said the case was not a complex matter when all was said and done, and unless new evidence comes to light in the future, it is now closed and will remain so.
“As in any case, we would be more than happy to look at and consider any evidence that might come in,” he said, “but at this point, the case is closed.”
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