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Tragedy tests new Ogden mayor on his first first full day in office

Published: Thursday, Jan. 5 2012 4:47 p.m. MST

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell answers questions from the press, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Ogden, concerning a shooting involving six Weber-Morgan Metro Narcotics Strike Force officers, including four from the Ogden Police Department, on Wednesday evening in Ogden. The shooting occurred on his first full day as mayor. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell answers questions from the press, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Ogden, concerning a shooting involving six Weber-Morgan Metro Narcotics Strike Force officers, including four from the Ogden Police Department, on Wednesday evening in Ogden. The shooting occurred on his first full day as mayor. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

OGDEN — Mike Caldwell had gone home Wednesday evening, having completed his first full day as mayor of Ogden.

He was reading a bedtime story to his 9-year-old daughter just before 9 p.m. when the phone rang in the other room. He let it ring.

"I figured I'd just finish the story with my daughter," Caldwell recalled, "but it rang again immediately."

The call was from one of his assistants in the mayor's office. And the news wasn't good.

"She said, 'Mike, there's been an officer-involved shooting. We're still in the thick of it, and we don't know what's happened. We've heard there are multiple injuries,'" the mayor recounted.

Caldwell tucked in his daughter, told her the rest of the story would have to wait and headed out "to be where I needed to be."

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell briefs the press, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Ogden, concerning a shooting involving six Ogden police officers on Wednesday evening in Ogden. The shooting occurred on his first full day as mayor. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell briefs the press, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Ogden, concerning a shooting involving six Ogden police officers on Wednesday evening in Ogden. The shooting occurred on his first full day as mayor. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Just minutes earlier, six officers from the Weber-Morgan Metro Narcotics Strike Force had been shot while attempting to serve a warrant at 3268 Jackson Ave. A gun battle broke out, and one of Ogden's own, officer Jared Francom, was fatally wounded.

Caldwell spent the rest of the night traveling between hospitals, police stations and city offices.

"It's been the most gut-wrenching, difficult thing I've ever done," he said.

The first stop was Ogden Regional Medical Center, where Francom had been taken.

"We knew he was the most seriously injured," Caldwell said.

The mayor said he wanted to show his support for the officers and their families, but he didn't want to intrude. Most of them didn't know him, he said.

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell briefs the press, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Ogden, concerning a shooting involving six Ogden police officers on Wednesday evening in Ogden. The shooting occurred on his first full day as mayor. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell briefs the press, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, in Ogden, concerning a shooting involving six Ogden police officers on Wednesday evening in Ogden. The shooting occurred on his first full day as mayor. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

"But I wanted to be there to tell every one of those guys, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you. We appreciate you, and we're going to do everything we can to take care of you,'" he said.

Caldwell estimates there were between 80 and 100 officers from jurisdictions throughout northern Utah at Ogden Region Medical Center in support of their fallen colleague Wednesday night.

"It's amazing the amount of support that comes out of a community when something like this happens," the mayor said.

Caldwell also spent some time at McKay-Dee Hospital Center, where Ogden police officers Shawn Grogan, Kasey Burrell and Michael Rounkles were taken in critical condition.

Weber County Sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson and Roy police officer Jason Vanderwarf also were injured. Hutchinson was in stable condition Thursday; Vanderwarf was treated at ORMC and later released.

"We spent a lot of time going to the different hospitals and meeting with the families," Caldwell said.

The mayor said he relied heavily on his "very capable, good team" of city employees to make sure the city was doing anything and everything it could for the officers and their families.

"You deal with what's in front of you and lean on the team that has been there," Caldwell said. "You really get to know a lot about people in times of crisis. We had some fantastic people who immediately stepped in. I was thrilled and honored to be part of that group."

The fatal shooting was a new experience for most Ogden city officials. The last Ogden police officer killed in the line of duty was detective Marshall White, who was killed by a burglary suspect in 1963. A city recreation and community center now bears his name.

"You never want to have to deal with an issue like the one we've been addressing over the last day," Caldwell said. "Thank goodness nobody has practice in dealing with an officer killed in the line of duty."

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com

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