Grief after Utah officer killed, 5 others wounded

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    Utah shooting: Six cops hurt, one killed

Utah shooting: Six cops hurt, one killed 02:27

Story highlights

  • Suspect is veteran of first Gulf War, had "mental issues," father says
  • The suspect is identified as Matthew Stewart, 37
  • "We have lost a brother," the Weber County sheriff says
  • 5 other officers were wounded; the suspect was also shot

Utah law enforcement officers mourned one of their own Thursday after a shooting left one officer dead and five others wounded.

The Wednesday night incident took place when they were attempting to serve a search warrant.

The six officers and the suspect were rushed to hospitals, Ogden Assistant Police Chief Marcy Korgenski said.

Officer Jared Francom died from his wounds, Ogden police said early Thursday.

"Agent Francom has served the citizens of Ogden city with honor for seven years," authorities said in a statement.

Francom is survived by his wife and two young children, the statement said. His widow, Erin, told CNN affiliate KUTV the officer "loved his job more than anything. He loved his family. He was a good husband."

The suspect, identified as Matthew David Stewart, 37, suffered injuries not considered to be life-threatening, authorities said.

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    Stewart's father, Michael, said the family was sorry for what happened, reported affiliate KTVX.

    "He is a decorated Gulf War veteran from the first Gulf War," Michael Stewart said of his estranged son. "I didn't know what he did over there. I know he's had some mental issues."

    The wounded officers were identified as Sgt. Nate Hutchinson with the Weber County Sheriff's Office; and Jason Vanderwarf, Shawn Grogan, Kasey Burrell and Michael Rounkles. CNN affiliate KSL said Vanderwarf is with the Roy police and Grogan, Burrell and Rounkles are Ogden officers.

    Ogden Regional Medical Center said Thursday that Vanderwarf was treated and released.

    The four other officers remained in Ogden's McKay-Dee Hospital, spokesman Chris Dallin said. Three were in critical condition, and one was in stable condition, Dallin said.

    Several officials fought tears as they discussed the incident at a news conference

    "This is a family. This is a law enforcement family," Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said. "The law enforcement community is mourning."

    "We have lost a brother," Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson said. "We will grieve this loss" with the knowledge that Francom gave his life for his fellow officers and the community, he said.

    The officers, part of a multi-agency narcotics task force, were attempting to serve a search warrant "based on probable cause there was drug activity" at an address in Ogden, Tarwater said. He would not elaborate.

    Stewart's father told KUTV his son is not a drug dealer.

    The warrant was a "knock-and-announce," meaning that officers knock on a residence's door and announce their presence, he said. If no one answers, "under certain circumstances, they will go ahead and enter the home. That's exactly what happened." When they entered the home, the officers came under fire, he said.

    The task force requires officers to wear bulletproof vests, he said, and "as far as I know, the officers were wearing vests and protective gear."

    Stewart has a "limited criminal history," Tarwater said. He did not have specifics but said he believed Stewart's record was mostly misdemeanors.

    Asked about reports that as many as 12 officers were sent to Stewart's home, strike force commander Lt. Darin Parke told reporters that number is not unusual. There was "not really a great deal that set this investigation apart ... other than the outcome," he said.

    The shooting will be subject to an internal investigation as well as an external review by the Weber County attorney, he said. Citing those investigations, police limited the release of information.

    Tarwater thanked the state of Utah, particularly police agencies, for their support. He said that at one point, at an Ogden hospital Wednesday night, there were "40 officers from probably seven different agencies."

    Gov. Gary Herbert met with families of the officers and said funds were set up for their future needs. "Our hearts go out to them," he told reporters at one of the hospitals.

    Herbert ordered that state and U.S. flags be lowered in the city of Ogden to honor the officers, Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said.

    Thursday was Caldwell's first day on the job.

    Ogden is about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City in northern Utah.

    Clayton Payne, a resident of the neighborhood where the shootings took place, told KSL, "I was sitting in the front room watching TV, heard three pops. My fiance asked if they were fireworks. I said, 'No, those are gunshots.' "

    He said he ran outside after hearing what sounded like an AK-47.

    "I ran out here to see what was going on, and I was escorted back to my house by the cops," he said. "They said, 'Get in your house. Get down.'"

    The shootings follow a year in which U.S. cities saw an increase in officers killed.

    The number of officers who died in the line of duty in 2011 increased 16% nationwide from last year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

    Last year, 177 officers were killed, compared with 153 in 2010, the organization said.