Man killed by Salt Lake cops had explosives in backpack
Police • West Jordan man who went to jail 15 times since 1995 blogged about fantasies inspired by Japanese culture.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Long before Anthony Kenshiro Mayhew was gunned down by police Thursday night while threatening to detonate a bomb on a downtown Salt Lake City light rail station platform, he had a long, troubled history with law enforcement — and showed signs of possible mental illness.

Meanwhile, police on Friday said their bomb squad did find "explosive potential" in Mayhew's backpack, but were unsure of how large any explosion would have been.

In Mayhew's blog (mrkenshiro.blogspot.com), the 39-year-old West Jordan man described himself as a "criminal contractor/multimedia designer" and "a notorious Japanese American Yakuza." Records show that on July 30 of this year he also had filed a request with Homeland Security for information on "brain-computer interface" devices he claimed had been placed in two of his family's homes.

"Homeless at age fifteen, hitman by age eighteen . . . he has been incarcerated over thirty-five times," Mayhew wrote of himself in the third person. He claimed a violent and criminal past, but insisted "100 percent of his alleged victims have criminal records."

"I prevent violent crimes from bleeding off into the civil world," Mayhew asserted. "Let the Criminal Underworld be my domain, for the Criminal Code is my Bible."

In a nearly five-minute video interview (http://bit.ly/Q8W9ez ) released by an obscure Park City-based video/DVD production company, AFJ Media LLC, a suit-wearing Mayhew repeats much of his blog narrative, claiming he had to leave home at 15, after bringing "a substance" into his house and subsequently being at odds with criminal elements.

He said he was faced with the choice of either staying, or "having people come in and execute" his family. Mayhew then continues his tale, claiming he had to fight for survival against transients riding the rails. At one point he says, "I'm unique to a degree," adding that he was raised by a "militant father and militant mother, to a degree" and had been "bred to fight" and taught to "never back down."

Asked by the interviewer, AFJ Media's owner, James E. Durham, what he would be willing to die for, Mayhew responds, "Other than my family, natural laws or the criminal code."

As the rambling interview concludes, Mayhew says it is his desire to someday "retire as a criminal contractor" — a job he loosely described as a sort of liaison between law-abiding civilians and violent criminals — when "there is peace among the world and I don't have to do what I do any more."

Efforts to reach Durham for comment at his business telephone listing were unsuccessful.

While his fantastical rants seem inspired by the Japanese manga comic book character Kenshiro, a master of martial arts assassination who fights villains in a post-apocalyptic world, Mayhew did not exaggerate his troubles with the law by much.

In 1995, Mayhew was charged in 3rd District Court with five felonies, including aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping, for allegedly forcing his way into a Murray condominium and threatening to kill three people there for "disrespecting him," according to court records and Tribune articles from the time.

Mayhew waved two shotguns at three people for nearly an hour, court documents indicate. At one point he chased a man into a bathroom and stuck the barrel of the shotgun through a crack and threatened to shoot him. But Mayhew did not shoot anyone and left.

Mayhew settled the case a year later by entering a no contest plea in abeyance to one count of third-degree felony aggravated assault.

In 1996, Mayhew and another man were charged with a felony hate crime in connection with a Sept. 27, 1995, attack on a black man in Salt Lake County. Charging documents indicate Mayhew and a 26-year-old man confronted the alleged victim in a bar and called him by a racial epithet.

Outside, a fight ensued and the alleged victim was beaten to the ground, where both defendants purportedly kicked him in the face while repeatedly using racial epithets, charging documents said. A year later, that case was dismissed after the alleged victim failed to appear in court for a preliminary hearing.

Utah court records show that Mayhew's criminal history also includes a number of assaults and drug-related offenses, dating back to 1992. No mention of mental health issues or court-ordered treatments were listed in any of the documents, though he was ordered to undergo alcohol counseling in 1998 after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor illegal possession or use of a controlled substance and interfering with arrest. A misdemeanor assault charge was dismissed in that case as part of a plea deal.

Mayhew was fatally shot by police at about 11 p.m. Thursday, when he abruptly ended two hours of negotiations with SWAT officers who had surrounded him on the Gallivan TRAX Station platform at 250 S. Main Street. He stood and began approaching officers, his hand holding what looked like a detonator switch as he reached into a seemingly wired backpack with his other hand.

Mayhew ignored repeated shouts from officers to halt. Instead, he screamed at them to shoot him and threatened to blow up them and the station. It was then that one of the officers fired a single shot, ending the standoff.

"He was saying he had a bomb and he was threatening to detonate it," Salt Lake City police Det. Dennis McGowan said Friday. "After he terminated the negotiations with our officers, it was just a couple minutes later he began approaching the officers. They loudly, clearly demanded he stop many times."

McGowan said he could not confirm where Mayhew was wounded, but the gunshot quickly proved fatal. He was declared dead shortly after arriving at University Hospital late Thursday night.

Mayhew initially called KUTV 's offices, just across the street from the station, about 9 p.m. He told a staffer that he was on the train station's platform with a bomb that he intended to explode. KUTV immediately called 911.

Officers rushed to the scene and found Mayhew sitting on a decorative rock on the platform. Mayhew was "agitated," and repeatedly claimed he had a bomb in his backpack while holding what appeared to be a switch with wires leading back inside the bag.

Police had closed an area bounded by 200 South to 400 South and State Street to West Temple and evacuated area businesses while they attempted to negotiate with Mayhew. KUTV staff, meanwhile, was ordered to take shelter in the back of their building.

The Salt Lake City bomb squad used two robots to detonate Mayhew's bag. Once the red backpack was destroyed, paramedics tended to the injured man, administering CPR. Mayhew was taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition and died shortly thereafter.

Witnesses had indicated that prior to the arrival of police, Mayhew had claimed federal narcotics officers were at his home. McGowan said he had no information about whether Mayhew indeed was the subject of a drug investigation. "That's something investigators will be looking into," McGowan said.

McGowan said investigators were working Friday to determine Mayhew's motives behind the bomb scare.

Members of Mayhew's family reached Friday declined to discuss him. In West Jordan, a sister-in-law asked for privacy during a time of grief. Mayhew's brother, an officer with the Alaska Enforcement Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration out of Juneau, also refused to comment.

While Anthony Mayhew's motives remained a mystery Friday, he had recently been involved in unsuccessful litigation against South Salt Lake over a 2009 arrest on assault and burglary. Those allegations were later dismissed. After filing an unsuccessful civil suit against the city, Mayhew, acting as his own attorney, filed a federal lawsuit on July 6 of this year demanding $180,000 for wrongful arrest.

The case, assigned to U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell, was dismissed with prejudice on Sept. 11.

In his handwritten complaint, Mayhew claimed he had called 911 the night of March 1 to report that a man on an apartment balcony in South Salt Lake had fired a gun at him. When the apartment's occupants claimed he had broken in and assaulted them, Mayhew was arrested, along with the alleged shooter.

— Reporter Jessica Miller contributed to this story

remims@sltrib.com