1 dead in officer-involved shooting in Roosevelt

Published: Thursday, Feb. 18 2010 12:19 a.m. MST

Emily Williams

Duchesne County Jail

ROOSEVELT — One man is dead and a Roosevelt police officer is on leave following a shooting Wednesday.

Officer TJ Bird spotted a broken window at Big O Tires near 1500 East and 200 North about 5:30 a.m. and tried to stop a pickup truck driving away from the store, according to Roosevelt Police Chief Rick Harrison.

The driver of the truck did not stop, according to police, and rammed Bird's marked police car twice. The second blow disabled the car and knocked the truck to the curb near 700 South and 400 East.

As Bird approached the truck to arrest the driver, the officer fired two shots and the driver was fatally wounded, Harrison said.

"From what we know right now, we think (the officer) acted appropriately," the chief said.

"We're fairly confident that the driver was the one who committed the burglary," he added. "We don't know him. We've never had any dealings with him."

Police identified the man as Gary M. Wheeler, 44, of Magna. Officers later determined that the truck Wheeler was driving had been stolen from a home in Roosevelt.

A passenger in the truck, Emily Williams, was not injured. She was arrested and has been booked into the Duchesne County Jail for investigation of vehicle theft and burglary.

Jack Staker, owner of Big O Tires, said his business has been burglarized four times in the past year. Staker said the burglar who broke into the shop Wednesday only got $10 to $15 in change.

"They didn't get any cash or take anything," he said.

Bird, who has been with the Roosevelt Police Department for a year, has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol, Harrison said. The incident is being investigated by the Duchesne County Sheriff's Office and the Utah Highway Patrol.

Wheeler has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1988, according to state court records, with convictions for offenses like burglary, failure to stop at the command of police and attempted forgery.

At the time of his death, Wheeler was out on bail following an arrest in October by West Valley police. He was due to appear in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City on April 13 for a preliminary hearing on charges of theft by receiving stolen property, burglary, theft, failure to stop at the command of police, criminal mischief, failure to give a name or assistance at an accident and driving on a revoked license.

e-mail: gliesik@desnews.com, andre@ubstandard.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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