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Officer killed in Utah drug raid

A seven-year veteran of the Ogden Police Department is shot dead and five others are wounded in what officials say began as a routine drug operation.

January 05, 2012|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times
  • Law enforcement officers and investigators stand outside the scene of a shooting in which Ogden Officer Jared Francom was killed. He is survived by a wife and two children.
Law enforcement officers and investigators stand outside the scene of… (Jim Urquhart, Associated…)

What police officials said began as a routine drug raid against a suspect with a relatively minor criminal record ended in gunfire that killed one officer and wounded five others in Ogden, Utah.

State and national flags were lowered Thursday to honor the dead and wounded officers as top officials from a regional narcotics task force continued their investigation into the Wednesday night raid that took the life of Ogden Officer Jared Francom, a seven-year veteran who is survived by his wife and two children.

Four officers were hospitalized in serious to critical condition and a fifth was treated and released, police said.

The suspect, Matthew David Stewart, 37, had "a limited criminal history" believed to include mostly misdemeanors, Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said. Stewart was injured and remains hospitalized under guard. His injuries are not considered life-threatening, but Tarwater did not say whether he was shot.

"It's a very, very sad day for Ogden," Tarwater said. "The law enforcement community is mourning."

In thanking outside police departments for their support, he said at one point Wednesday night there were "40 officers from probably seven different agencies" at the hospital after the raid.

An internal investigation by police as well as prosecutors in Weber County is underway. Officials gave the following initial account of the raid:

Task force officers, including local and county police and federal agents, were serving what law enforcement calls a "knock and announce" search warrant at a house on Jackson Avenue in Ogden, about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City. 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, officials said.

When officers entered the house, 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.

Authorities did not disclose what types 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 said that number was not unusual. There was "not really a great deal that set this investigation apart … other than the outcome," he said.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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