Ogden shooting suspect planned to 'go out in blaze of glory,' prosecutors say

Interviews, formal charges reveal new details

Published: Friday, Jan. 13 2012 11:42 p.m. MST

A bullet hole marked in the front door of the home at 3268 Jackson Ave. in Ogden, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

OGDEN — Last summer, Matthew David Stewart told a friend that if police officers ever tried to raid his home-grown marijuana operation, he'd "go out in a blaze of glory and shoot to kill."

That's according to investigators who detailed the actions of the Ogden man charged Friday with capital murder for the shooting death of Ogden police officer Jared Francom. The Weber County Attorney's Office also filed notice that it intends to seek the death penalty if Stewart is convicted.

In addition to the murder charge, Stewart, 37, was charged in 2nd District Court with seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, and manufacturing a controlled substance, a charge connected to the suspected marijuana operation that brought officers to the house last week.

Questions remain about how six trained members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force were taken by surprise, leading to the fatal shooting of one officer and gunshot wounds to five others in a warrant action similar to those completed dozens of times by these same officers. Newly released court documents and interviews with neighbors and law enforcement officials paint a more detailed picture of a chaotic tragedy in the normally tranquil Ogden neighborhood on Jan. 4.

Stewart, armed with a Beretta .9mm handgun, was relentless in firing on officers. He continued to shoot officers after they were down, firing on officers as they tried to get their wounded brothers out of the house, and then following the officers even after they had left the house, shooting at them from his front door into the street, according to a police affidavit filed Friday.

An internal investigation is being conducted by two lieutenants and a sergeant from the Ogden Police Department. An external review will be conducted by the county attorney's Homicide Task Force, a group that reviews all officer-involved shootings.

When asked whether he believes any mistakes were made by police that night, interim Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said, "That's why we have a shooting review board. I can't answer those questions now."

3268 Jackson Avenue

Jackson Avenue on the city's east side was quiet earlier this week as winter cold kept residents indoors.

It's a striking contrast from just 10 days ago when the barrage of gunfire shocked neighbors who watched in horror as wounded police officers were dragged or carried across their yards by other officers trying to get their fallen comrades to safety.

At 8:40 that night at least 12 officers and deputies arrived at the house to serve a search warrant after learning of a possible marijuana growing operation. The officers only had a search warrant that night, not an arrest warrant.

Police had been here before. But Stewart wasn't answering. On this night the team's "knock and announce" warrant allowed them to enter the house if there was no response. 

Outside of a couple of traffic infractions, court records show Stewart has no criminal history in Utah. Investigators said they had confirmed that Stewart was growing marijuana in his home. But they did not have any information that there were guns inside.

"If they were expecting to find weapons, it would have been a different warrant and a different approach," Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said.

Sources said the strike team was split into two groups, but law enforcement officials would not comment on the team's tactics. A police affidavit states the officers knocked on the side door on the south side of the house after loudly announcing several times, "Police, search warrant." When no one answered, the officers entered the home and cleared the basement and the main floor, continuing to announce their presence with no response as they went through the house.

Stewart surprised the group and started shooting, the affidavit states.

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