With a witness just feet away, Kenneth Dolezar, a Utah Valley assistant hockey coach, was fatally shot last week outside a restaurant in Sandy.
Dolezar helped the hockey team with more than just coaching during the three years the program has been in existence: He has been the primary financial support for the team since joining forces with head coach Matt Beaudry to start the program at Utah Valley, including a $50,000 donation in April 2007.
"He meant everything," Beaudry said. "He was the one who called me and said he wanted to start a team at UVSC … this was his passion."
DJ Strader, who has been on the team all three years, said, "He was one of the founding building blocks and was an enormous part of what this team meant."
The witness to the shooting said Dolezar was arguing with another man near Dolezar’s SUV in the parking lot at the Village Inn restaurant at 150 W. 10600 South, near the South Towne shopping center before 7 a.m. last Thursday morning.
Dolezar, 50, held his hands up and backed away from the other man before the suspect shot him two or three times.
The suspect reportedly drove away from the scene in Dolezar’s white Lincoln Navigator. The vehicle was found, but the suspect was not yet apprehended as of Friday, Nov. 16.
Several of Dolezar’s relatives met at the restaurant after the incident. Police had potential suspects and leads. The restaurant closed for the day, but no one was inside when the shooting occurred.
"Ken was good to everyone. All the guys loved Ken, and he helped everyone no matter what," Beaudry said.
Beaudry called the players for an emergency team meeting Thursday morning and told them Dolezar was shot and killed.
"We walked in and saw the coaches and trainers crying, and coach told us what happened," captain Eric Bowman said. "It was just silent for like 20 minutes."
The Wolverines’ games last weekend against the University of Utah and Walla Walla were played in Dolezar’s honor, as well as the rest of the season.
"He [Dolezar] was so excited for this season," Bowman said. "We lost a big part of the team, so we want to dedicate this season to him."