Fatal hesitation by Michael, the attack dog, kept Corrections Lt. Fred House in an open doorway and exposed him to the gunfire that ended his life Jan. 28, witnesses testified in the Singer-Swapp trial.
FBI Agent John J. Butler Jr. testified Wednesday that while that was going on, he saw Addam Swapp turn, "bring the weapon up, shoulder the weapon and point it in my direction . . . I fired one shot at that individual." The shot was one of two fired by FBI agents from the Bates residence at the Singer compound, leaving Addam Swapp seriously wounded in the wrist and chest and ending the siege.Jonathan Swapp wore a buckskin jacket to the trial Wednesday. It is fringed but without the religious decorations of the buckskin jacket worn by his brother, Addam. The Deseret News asked his wife, Heidi, whether she and Charlotte Swapp had also made Jonathan's jacket.
"No, it's Dad's," she said. Her father is the late John Singer, killed resisting arrest nine years ago. In testimony Tuesday, FBI agents recounting the shootout said that after German shepherd hesitated, the animal ran inside the Bates residence, where a federal SWAT team and dog handlers were stationed, and attacked at least two FBI agents. One agent needed 10 stitches in his forearm.
According to testimony, it was the second time that FBI agents were bitten by attack dogs at Marion, Summit County, during the stakeout and shooting.
The dogs were only one strange aspect of a dramatic day of testimony, capped by an agent describing how he shot Addam Swapp with a submachine gun while bullets were cracking through the Bates home.
FBI agent Hugh McKinney described the shoot-out, which happened around 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 28. He was watching from a window next to a stair landing in the Bates house, which is part of the Singer compound.
McKinney said Jonathan and Ad-dam Swapp came out of the Singer home heading toward the goat pen, which was close to the house where the agents were hidden. After the FBI received permission to arrest the brothers, officers downstairs opened the front door.
"Immediately thereafter I heard several gunshots," he said. He saw the brothers turn. He said he saw Ad-dam Swapp fall to the snow, his rifle falling off his back, and Swapp holding his rifle.
Then Addam Swapp stumbled back to the homestead.
"At this time I heard Lt. House give a grunt." An FBI agent said, "Fred, are you all right?"
When the first shots came in, he said, the Swapps were still walking back toward the Singer residence. "I heard two shots fired from our position."
House slumped beside a wall.
"I came down the steps and some additional rounds came through." House's legs were blocking the door, making it impossible to close.
"I grabbed them and pulled them out of the way." Another agent closed the door with a broom handle and they began administering medical aid to House, who was pulled into a kitchen.
Just before the door closed, House's dog came in "and as I went back to get my medical bag the dog attacked me," McKinney said.
"The dog acted confused and spun around a couple of times and bit me." He yelled to the dog to get down, and it did; then it spun around a couple more times and bit him twice more.
McKinney required 10 stitches in his right forearm, although the wound did not bleed much and left no blood in the Bates home.
A closet door was torn down and used as a stretcher so that cardiopulmonary resuscitation could be given to House as he was evacuated to an armored personnel carrier.
"He was unconscious almost immediately and never responded to any verbal stimulus nor pain stimulus," he said.
As they left through the back window, "I saw Addam Swapp lying in the snow," with an FBI agent trying to stop the bleeding from Swapp's wrist. Swapp was shivering and McKinney told agents to get him off the snow. He was soon taken to a helicopter.
FBI agent David S. Edwards said that when they went into the Bates home around 10 p.m. on Jan. 27, "there was a great deal of disarray. There was clothing and other items on the ground, as if it had been trashed."
Five FBI agents, the two state corrections dog handlers and the two dogs staked out the Singer residence from that house.
Edwards, stationed on the second floor, said the dogs were released after the Swapp brothers had been to the goat pen and were on their way back to the Singer house. Clearly, "the Swapps had not seen the dogs," he said.
They turned and shots rang out. Edwards could see the impacts of bullets on the doorway. Michael, House's dog, came upstairs and attacked him and McKinney, he said.
Edwards was able to shut the dog in another room, and an agent shot Addam Swapp.
FBI agent Richard A. Imtellini said that as he watched the Swapps through his submachine gun's sights, "I'm conscious of Lt. Fred House coming up with his dog," and "radio traffic" about making the arrest.
House had been in a back bedroom and went toward the door with another state dog handler, Jerry Pope. An agent said, "Fred, let's go."
House came into the home's entry, holding the dog by the collar.
"He was speaking a German term which he used to agitate the dog and alert the dog to a possible attack . . . When that particular dog is agitated he whines. The dog was whining."
House opened the front door. Although Imtellini was keeping his eyes on the Swapps, he could still see House.
"I see Lt. House leaning down over the dog and I see him let go of the dog . . . (He) attempted to push the dog out."
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the dog "begin to back into the door." House had to step out from where he was protected, and was silhouetted in the light from the doorway, leaning over the dog, his hand on the tail.
"He was fully exposed to that door."
House gave the dog an order and repeated it. Around this time, Michael barked and the Swapp brothers turned.
"As the dogs were barking they (the Swapps) turned their heads. It's like they did a double-take." They took two or three steps, turning and looking over their shoulders as they walked.
"I saw Addam shoulder his weapon," Imtellini said. Suddenly bullets ripped into the house, and he could hear them splintering the wood.
"I saw Addam with his weapon shouldered in his right arm . . . and I fired at Addam . . . Front of me, the window broke in a spidering effect and obscured my vision of the subjects at that time."
He heard another agent say House was hit.
FBI agent Jack Salisebury was with a team in the Jepsen residence, a staging area west of the Bates home and nearly aligned with it from the Singer house. He said at the time of the shoot-out, bullets also hit that house and a vehicle parked in front of the driveway.
An agent was hit by a fragment that flew from the house.