Former Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata’s son is in critical condition after a shooting in Utah on Thursday morning.
Ephraim Asiata, 15, was identified as one of three victims in a shooting that occurred in West Valley City, Utah, by the Granite School District.
“Principal (Ryan) Oaks recently spoke with the Asiata Family and they indicated that he remains in critical condition and the family would appreciate prayers in behalf of their son, nephew, and cousin,” district officials said in the tweet, per Deseret News. “As a school and district community, we also ask that you keep the families of Paul Tahi and Tivani Lopati in your hearts, thoughts and prayers, and that we work to support them in any way we can. There are many children and families who are struggling this evening as a result of this senseless tragedy.”
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3 Teens Shot Near Asiata’s Alma Mater
According to Deseret News, Police believe two groups of students who knew each other were fighting between the northbound and southbound lanes of a highway near Hunter High School, Asiata’s alma mater.
After gunshots rang out, the suspects fled the scene, West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said, per Deseret News. West Valley police identified the other two victims, Tivani Lopati, 14, Paul Tahi, 15, who died late Thursday night.
A witness to the shooting she was driving when she heard three to four loud bangs but didn’t immediately associate them with gunfire. But then she noticed people scattering and saw two teens, including one carrying a gun.
“There were kids flying everywhere trying to get away!” the witness said, per Deseret News. “I saw him shoot at this one kid and I saw him go down and just hit the floor or the ground and he just was in so much pain,” she said. “It was the scariest thing ever. And they went over and they kicked him in the head and then they ran away.”
Police have taken four boys into custody: three 14-year olds and a 15-year-old, Deseret News reported.
“As far as I know, the people involved are high school students,” Vainuku said.
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Ephraim a Star Football Player Like His Dad
All three victims were football players at Hunter High School. Ephraim, a sophomore, has already received an offer from Wisconsin and recently made an official visit to his father’s college alma mater, Utah.
A linebacker, Ephraim tallied 77 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks in nine games last season. He was recently excited about his grades, posting on January 12 that he received a 3.8 GPA for his second term.
Ephraim also plays basketball for Hunter High School.
Ephraim’s Twitter account is filled with training videos led by Matt, to whom he’s shown his gratitude.
“#AsiataTraining I appreciate my DAD for the help and hard training he puts me through to play this sport,” Ephraim tweeted on January 8.
Ephraim was around the Vikings locker room while Matt played for the team, calling Adrian Peterson “Uncle” and posting a childhood photo with the star running back.
Nicknamed “Fat Boy” since he was a child, Ephraim continues to see support on social media from the West Valley City community and beyond.