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Drug raid ends in gunfight, arrest in Provo

Published November 20, 2012 11:44 am

Crime • No one hurt, alleged shooter in custody, police say.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A 20-year-old Provo man was behind bars Tuesday, the day after he allegedly engaged in a gunfight with police serving a "no-knock" drug warrant.

Provo police Lt. Mathew Siufanua said Alex J. Opmanis was being held without bail on suspicion of attempted homicide.

About 12 officers, from both the Provo Police Department and Utah County Sheriff's Department, were forced to retreat when their 6:30 p.m. approach to Opmanis' residence in the 400 South block of 900 West was met with gunfire.

"There were multiple rounds fired through the front door. The [sheriff's] deputies returned fire and retreated. No one was hurt," Siufanua said. He did not have a specific count for bullets fired by police and the suspect.

Police then entered the residence through its back door, taking Opmanis by surprise. He surrendered without further resistance, Siufanua said.

The suspect's girlfriend was also inside the home at the time, located in a back bedroom, but she was not injured. After questioning, she was released.

Provo police Detective Brian Taylor said officers did recover an unspecified amount of marijuana from the home. In addition to the attempted homicide charge, Opmanis was booked on suspicion of marijuana distribution and possession of a weapon by a restricted person.

Utah court records show one previous drug-related case involving Opmanis, a February "no contest" plea to class A misdemeanor use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

Taylor confirmed that Opmanis told arresting officers that he initially thought he was firing at intruders, possibly Polynesian gang members, despite officers' repeated efforts to identify themselves throughout the raid.

"He did make those statements to police. Why he may have believed that, and the reasonableness of his actions are subjects of investigation." Taylor said, noting that the Utah County Attorney's Office would explore that claim as part of its shooting review.

remims@sltrib.com