OGDEN — Family members, friends and brothers in blue paid tribute Tuesday night to fallen Ogden police officer Jared Francom.
A viewing was held Tuesday at Myers Mortuary, 845 Washington Blvd., for Francom who was shot and killed last week while serving a search warrant with members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force. All remembered Francom as a wonderful man who loved his job.
"He was a great guy. Everyone liked him from the moment he joined the force," said retired Ogden police officer Reid Felter, who was on the force when Francom was hired. "No matter what assignment he went to, he excelled in it. Just a super likable guy."
Law enforcement agencies from other jurisdictions, including Utah Highway Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration and Salt Lake police, all had representatives at the viewing. An even larger showing of police officers was expected Wednesday for Francom's funeral at Weber State University's Dee Events Center.
An estimated 400 to 500 police vehicles from across the nation are expected to be part of the funeral procession, said funeral director Shawn Myers. He said he had personally spoken with officers from as far away as New York who were planning on attending the funeral.
Ogden Police Lt. Eric Young said he had spoken with officers from Chicago who would be attending Francom's funeral, as well as many officers from Idaho and other Western states. When he informed other officers in the Ogden Police Department about how many officers were coming and from how far away, Young said the looks on their faces said it all.
"It's an emotional thing to get that kind of support," he said.
Francom's brother, Travis Francom, said his family is "hanging in there. They are getting better day by day."
He said the sentiments sent from around the country have been comforting for them.
"Just feeling the love and prayers from everybody has been really nice for my family and me," he said.
"We take it so for granted to these guys that put their life on the line every day," said an emotional Eric Smith, an uncle to Jared Francom.
Francom's funeral is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. After the funeral, his casket will be placed on the back of a fire truck and taken to the Ogden City Cemetery with a long procession of police cars behind it. Thousands of American flags are expected to line the streets. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered all flags in Utah to be lowered to half-staff Wednesday.
"Our hearts particularly go out to agent Francom's wife, two young children and parents, who have been tragically robbed of the presence of their beloved husband, father and son," Herbert said in a prepared statement. "This shooting is a dreadful reminder that we should all be grateful for our brave law enforcement professionals who daily put their lives on the line in order to keep our communities safe."
There was also an effort started by citizens Tuesday to "paint the city blue," with blue ribbons hung all over town Wednesday in honor of the fallen officer.
Already Tuesday, there were many signs on the marquees of local businesses and schools thanking Francom and all officers from the Ogden Police Department for their service.
"It's sad to know (what happened). I'm grateful to the police officers who put their lives on the line," said Marianne Searle, a friend of Francom's family who attended Tuesday's viewing.
Kevin Miles, who works with Francom's father at Hill Air Force Base, didn't know Jared personally, but wanted to be at the viewing Tuesday to support his family.
"Great people. Always laughing, joking. Good hard workers," he said of the family.
The most meaningful part of tomorrow's ceremonies for law enforcers will be the interment where Francom will be buried with full honors, Myers said. An honor guard will present a U.S. flag to Francom's widow. There will also be a 21-gun salute, taps, a fly-over and a "final 10-42" call over the police radio signaling an end of duty.
Among those listed as the honorary casket bearers are the five other officers who were injured while either entering the home with Francom or responding as backup to help their wounded brethren.
Ogden police officers Kasey Burrell, Michael Rounkles and Shawn Grogan were all listed in fair condition Tuesday, said McKay-Dee Hospital Center spokesman Chris Dallin. Until Tuesday, Burrell had been listed in critical condition.
Weber County Sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson left the hospital Sunday, and Roy police officer Jason VanderWarf was released from the hospital Thursday.
"This is probably the most challenging funeral I've been part of, but also the most rewarding," Myers said, "because we're honoring a man who gave his life to serve his community."4 comments on this story
The donations from the community had been "unbelievable," he said, including a company that donated the headstone for Francom's gravesite. On Facebook, a petition has been started to have the Ogden Amphitheatre named after Francom.
Several dignitaries were expected to attend the funeral, including Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and possibly Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, as well as officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When asked how he hopes his brother will be remembered, Travis Francom didn't hesitate.
"Just simply as a hero," he said, "to not only me (but) to the other officers that were involved."