Utah police mourn officer killed in drug raid
The Utah law enforcement community mourned the death of one of their own Thursday as authorities tried to piece together the details of a shooting during a drug raid that left five other officers and the suspect wounded.
As state and national flags were ordered lowered to honor the dead and wounded officers, top officials from the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force met reporters. The strike force, composed of local police agencies as well as county and federal officers, conducted the raid Wednesday night that led to the death of Ogden Officer Jared Francom, a seven-year veteran, survived by his wife and two children.
The five other officers remained hospitalized in serious to critical condition, police said. “It's a very, very sad day for Ogden,” Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said at the televised news conference.
“This is a family. This is a law enforcement family,” Tarwater said. “The law enforcement community is mourning.”
“We have lost a brother,” Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson said. Francom gave his life for his fellow officers and the community, he added.
Although an investigation is underway, officials gave the following account:
The officers were serving a search warrant at a house on Jackson Avenue in Ogden, about 35 miles from Salt Lake City. When serving the warrant, known by law enforcement as a ‘knock-and-announce,” police knock on the door and announce their intentions. If no one answers, police can enter the building if they believe there is probable cause of drug activity.
When officers entered, they came under fire, police said. Officers are required to wear bulletproof vests on such a raid, Tarwater said. “As far as I know, the officers were wearing vests and protective gear,” he told reporters.
The suspect was identified as Matthew David Stewart, 37. Tarwater said Stewart had “a limited criminal history,” believed to be mostly misdemeanors. Stewart was injured and remains hospitalized under guard. The injuries are not considered life-threatening, Tarwater said.
Authorities did not disclose what type of weapons were involved or how many shots were fired.
Asked about reports that as many as a dozen officers were sent on the raid, strike force commander Lt. Darin Parke told reporters that that number is not unusual. There was “not really a great deal that set this investigation apart ... other than the outcome,” he said.
In addition to internal police investigations, the shooting will be examined by the Weber County prosecutors.
Tarwater thanked fellow police agencies for their support. He said that at one point Wednesday night, there were “40 officers from probably seven different agencies” at the hospital.
Photo: Odgen Police Chief Wayne Tarwater addresses the media during a news conference. On Wednesday night six area law enforcement officers were shot while serving a search warrant. One officer from Ogden died of his wounds. Credit: Jim Urquhart / Associated Press