Utah officer killed, 6 others wounded in shootout
Jan 5, 2012 at 12:41 PM
OGDEN, Utah (AP) — A shootout erupted when police raided a Utah house on Wednesday evening, killing an officer and seriously wounding five others and the suspect, authorities said.
"It's a very, very sad day for Ogden," an emotional Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said Thursday.
The officers from an anti-drug task force went to the suburban Salt Lake City house as part of a routine drug-related investigation. They knocked on the door and identified themselves, he said.
"When there was no answer, they forced entry onto the door," he said. "When they entered, the officers came under fire."
The suspect, Matthew David Stewart, 37, has a limited criminal history. Stewart suffered injuries that are not life threatening, though it's unclear if he was shot.
Stewart is in a hospital under guard and it wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.
The officer killed, Jared Francom, was with the Ogden police. He had a wife and two young children.
After one of the officers was shot, police blocked off the area and a SWAT team took positions. Ogden is about 35 miles north of Salt Lake City.
The team serving the search warrant was made up of officers from the Weber County Sheriff's Office, local police departments and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
Authorities said the conditions of the officers ranged from serious to critical.
They are Ogden officers Shawn Grogan, Kasey Burrell and Michael Rounkles, Weber County sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson and Roy officer Jason Vanderworf.
The unit's commander, So. Ogden City Lt. Darin Parke said that "other than the outcome" the investigation that led to the plan to search Stewart's home was like any other.
A total of 12 officers were on hand when the warrant was served, he said.
Police continued to search the home Thursday, but would not say what they had found, or specifically what they had been looking for.
Witnesses said they heard three quick pops followed by a two- to three-minute pause, then lots of gunfire.
"We came running outside to see what was going on," Janessa Vanderstappen, who lives nearby, told the Deseret News. "Officers told us to go back in our house."
Vanderstappen said she went back inside, and minutes later heard yelling coming from the backyard. She said she walked onto the back porch to see officers addressing a person hiding in a nearby shed.
"There's cops telling him to 'put your hands up, put your hands up,'" she said.
Mat Weinberger, who lives about a half block away, said he first thought the noise was fireworks.
From the porch, he told the Salt Lake Tribune that he could see several police cars parked at a nearby intersection. He also could hear a voice on the police radio shout that an officer was down.
He estimated that between 30- to 40- shots were fired during the shootout.
"Chaotic end to a quiet night," he said.
On Thursday, Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell called the shooting, which occurred on his first full-day in office, a "one-in-a-billion event."
"It's amazing what these officers do — put themselves in harm's way," he said.
Associated Press writer Jennifer Dobner in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.