Jared Francom gave his life doing what he loved, slain officer's brother says
Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
OGDEN — From the time he was a young boy, all Jared Francom could talk about was becoming a police officer.
"Jared was determined to serve in law enforcement and ultimately gave his life doing what he loved to do," said his brother, Travis Francom.
Family members Thursday mourned the loss of Francom who was shot and killed in the line of duty while serving a warrant with the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force.
Francom's three younger brothers stood side-by-side Thursday night as they addressed the media at a candlelight vigil. They thanked all the law enforcers and medical personnel who helped Jared, and encouraged the public to keep the other officers in their prayers.
Travis Francom, 25, remembered his brother as a great father, husband, son and friend who will be greatly missed. The most important legacy he left for his family is the example he set.
"I know that my brother is here watching over all of us tonight. And I just want him to know how much we love him and appreciate everything he's done for us, for setting an example for us, his brothers, his children," he said.
Jared Francom, 30, and five other officers were shot Wednesday night. Francom died hours later. Burrell and fellow Ogden officers Shawn Grogan and Michael Rounkles, Weber County Sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson and Roy police officer Jason Venderwarf were hospitalized.
The alleged gunman, Matthew David Stewart, 37, was also shot. His injuries were not life-threatening.
Jared Francom was the oldest of four boys. He also had an older sister. He was born in Ogden and lived there for six years before his family moved to California. The Francoms later moved to Las Vegas where Jared graduated from high school. He returned to Utah about seven years ago.
He is survived by his wife, Erin, and two young daughters who family members say haven't yet fully comprehended what has happened.
"(We) told them he has a big mission to serve our Heavenly Father up there, so that's what we left it at," Travis Francom said.
He described his older brother as an adrenaline junkie who loved skiing, motorcycles and ATVs. Jared and his father went skydiving on his 18th birthday, and Jared continued to do it ever since.
Francom, with a smile, recalled how his brother was very good at being a cop, but was also known for being "clumsy" and would often fall while running or slip on the ice.
But Jared Francom, an Ogden police officer, loved being on the strike force.
"This was his dream job. This is what he wanted to do," said Diane Frisby, who drove to Utah with her husband from her home in Henderson, Nev., when she heard the news that their son-in-law had been shot and killed.
"I don't think he ever was afraid. I think he truly enjoyed what he did and looked forward to it every single day. I know he enjoyed being on the strike force," Travis Francom said.
The Francoms first learned Wednesday night what happened to Jared when they received a call from an officer on Jared's cell phone. The officer noticed that Jared had been texting his 16-year-old brother, Ben Francom, earlier that evening. He was the first to receive the call.
Travis Francom said he thought a lot Thursday about what he would say if he had one more chance to talk to his brother.
"I'd just tell him that I love him, and thank you."
The Francom family also asked the public to think about the alleged gunman's family.
"We encourage everyone to remember the family of the suspect as they have a long road ahead of them as well. I'm sure this must be a difficult time for them as it is our family."
For Natalie Burrell, a phone call she received Wednesday night was like a nightmare.
She was told her husband of nine years, Ogden police officer Kasey Burrell, had been shot while serving a search warrant at 3268 Jackson Ave.
By the time she arrived at McKay-Dee Hospital Center, he was already in surgery. He was in the operating room for eight hours. He was shot in the head and stomach, and is in critical condition. She says she is proud of her husband and thankful.
"I cannot say enough about police officers," she said as she started crying. "They put their lives on the line."
Kasey Burrell has served with the Ogden Police Department since 2003 and has been a member of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Metro Strike Force for the past five years.
Natalie, obviously shaken by what has happened, described her husband as a good police officer and a good guy, who has won a number of distinguished service awards including Officer of the Year and Agent of the Year.
"As much as he's a decorated officer, he's more of a decorated man in general," she said.
He's a father of a 5-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl. The couple is expecting their third child in June.
"He is the best dad that anyone could ever want or have," she said, holding back tears. "He's the best husband that I could ever have ever asked for."
Natalie Burrell says the officers' families are a close-knit group, and the fact that one of them has died hurts and will for a long time.
"My heart goes out to all of them," she said. "They are my friends. They're like brothers. I'm just sorry that all of this has happened to everybody involved. It's unfortunate, and I'm just so, so thankful that my husband is here because some of us aren't as lucky."
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