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Some officers were shot while trying to rescue fallen comrades, prosecutor says

Photo found of suspected shooter dressed as terrorist

Published: Monday, Jan. 9 2012 5:27 p.m. MST

OGDEN — Weber County Attorney Dee Smith doesn't know when Matthew Stewart will be transferred from the hospital to jail. But he is prepared to file charges when he is — and he will seek the death penalty.

Smith said Stewart, accused of shooting and killing Ogden police officer Jared Francom and wounding five other officers, will likely face charges of capital murder, eight counts of attempted aggravated murder and cultivation of marijuana.

There were more officers affected than just those who were shot, Smith said during a news conference Monday.

"There were victims in this who weren't physically wounded by a bullet," he said.

Because the case is still an active investigation, the prosecutor said there are many details he cannot yet reveal about what happened at Stewart's house, 3268 Jackson Ave., on the night of Jan. 4 when members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force served a search warrant.

But despite rumors, Smith said he has seen no evidence to suggest any of the six officers were shot by "friendly fire" or by fellow officers.

"A number of individuals were wounded as they were giving aid and trying to remove fallen officers from the scene," Smith said.

Smith also confirmed that a "suspicious device" was found in a closet in the house on Saturday. Because of "its appearance and other components located nearby," a local bomb squad was called and detonated the device inside the house.

"There was a fear it would explode," he said. "There was a device that was fashioned in a way that concerned those that dealt with it. There were components and materials that caused a great deal of concern."

Whether it could actually be classified as a "bomb," Smith couldn't say. Nearby residents were evacuated as crews detonated the device.

Also Monday, Smith confirmed that a photograph of Stewart was found inside his home in which he looks like a terrorist.

"It appears to be a recent photo, based on his current beard size, and it depicted an individual dressed as a terrorist with some kind of bomb device," the county attorney said.

He declined, however, to speculate on any possible motive for the shootings.

Smith said there was no video taken of the officers actually entering the home, but there is video available of the crime scene from the dash-cams of patrol vehicles and other officers who arrived after the initial shooting. His office is examining those videos.

Stewart's home is riddled with bullets. While the exact number of shots fired is still under investigation, about 100 bullet holes were visible Monday in a neighbor's house, a fence and Stewart's shed.

Smith also said there was no information to suggest that anything more than a knock-and-announce warrant was needed in this case. Members of the strike force first knocked on the door and identified themselves "numerous times" before entering.

"They certainly made their presence known and who they were known," he said.

A no-knock warrant, in which officers simply break into a home unannounced, would likely not have been granted in this case, Smith said. "If they were expecting to find weapons, it would have been a different warrant and a different approach."

Officers had tried to search Stewart's home on several occasions prior to Jan. 4, but no one was ever home. The warrant they were serving was only a search warrant, not an arrest warrant.

"They had made a number of attempts to go to that house to make contact to make it as low-key as possible," Smith said.

Stewart's condition remained unknown Monday. Smith said he is prepared to file charges once he's booked into jail, but he would not speculate when that may be.

Smith described the crime scene as "massive."

"This is a very significant event. ... I don't know if the state has ever experienced something of this magnitude," he said. "This is a massive investigation. There were a lot of shots fired. There were a lot of victims. There were a lot of police officers who responded from a number of agencies."

Interim Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater met with the families of the three police officers who remained hospitalized Monday. Two officers, Michael Rounkles and Shawn Grogan, remained hospitalized Monday in fair condition at McKay-Dee Hospital Center. Kasey Burrell remained in critical condition. Weber County Sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson and Roy police officer Jason VanderWarf have since been released from the hospital.

The funeral for Francom will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. Ogden's Dee Events Center.

In 2011, the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force served 111 search warrants, seized 34 pounds of methamphetamine, 6,600 marijuana plants and 124 illegally possessed firearms.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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