Audio: Interviews of Ogden shootout suspect Matthew Stewart
Lying in a hospital bed after being wounded during a shootout with police officers after a search warrant was executed at his Ogden home on Jan. 4, 2012, Matthew David Stewart told Weber County investigators that he felt he was defending himself and protecting his home from "a bunch of guys" breaking in.
"I didn't think I had a chance if I didn't do that," Stewart told the investigator, referring to shooting at the Weber Morgan Strike Force agents who had entered his home. "I think they would have just killed me."
In the ensuing gunbattle, Strike Force Agent Jared Francom, 30, was killed and five other officers were wounded before Stewart was taken into custody.
The interview was part of a large number of documents, photos, video and audio files released by the Weber County Attorney's Office to The Salt Lake Tribune as part of an open records request.
In the interview, Stewart tells the investigator that he pointed his 9mm Beretta around the corner of his bedroom door, but didn't fire until he was fired upon first.
"They just unloaded down the hallway and I saw dust and wood fragments flying everywhere," Stewart said in a quiet, raspy voice as hospital monitors beep in the background. "And I hadn't pulled the trigger."
But Agent Shawn Grogan, the first officer injured in the shootout, emphasized in his interview with investigators that he didn't open fire until Stewart fired first.
Stewart told the investigator that lights were on in his home when the shooting happened, and that he knew he was hitting the people in his home because he could hear "screaming and yelling," but said he was focused on his own injury a gunshot wound in the arm.
The investigator also asked Stewart if he now knew who the people were who he shot at. Stewart said he did not know specifically.
"Who were they?" Stewart asked the investigators. "We've got a lot of branches out there."
"Branches of what?" the investigator asked.
"Branches of the government," Stewart replied.
When the investigator probed into whether Stewart thought they were CIA or local police, Stewart said he wasn't sure.
"Well I didn't see them in uniform, and I didn't hear anything specific," Stewart said, who had pointed out that he was just getting up for work when the officers burst into his home, "so I was half asleep."
That interview ended after the investigator asked Stewart whether he was walking back and forth in the kitchen shooting at the officers. Stewart said, at that point, he needed a lawyer.
In another interview , the investigator asks about what crime scene investigators thought might be an explosive device in one of Stewart's closets.
The investigator described the device as PVC pipes painted orange with wires running from them to a bag containing powdered crystals.
Stewart said he doesn't think it would explode if handled carefully, noting that he has mixed small quantities of chemicals to make "pyrotechnics."
The investigator then asked about a photo of Stewart dressed for Halloween as the Ayatollah wearing a suicide vest. Stewart he chose that costume "because I didn't really believe in 9/11."
Stewart added that his faith in the government had been "undermined over the years" by the different branches of government fighting for ... power. I don't know where the lines are drawn... I just want to stand for the truth...
"I really don't want to hurt anybody."
"That's why I'm here," said the investigator, bringing the conversation back to the suspected bomb. "I just want to make sure there's nothing going to explode in that house. I've already found the device. I'm worried about it's potency."
Referring again to the Halloween costume, Stewart said, "The device that was wrapped around my chest in the photo is completely fake, you know that right?"
"But the one in the closet is what concerns me," the investigator asked. "You don't know a bomb is there, huh?"
The interview ends when Stewart says, "That doesn't sound familiar."
Stewart hung himself in the Weber County jail in May.
He had pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated murder and seven first-degree felony counts of attempted aggravated murder for allegedly trying to kill other officers, and one second-degree felony count related to alleged marijuana cultivation. According to court documents, 16 pot plants were found in his house after the raid.
Go to http://www.sltrib.com to listen to police interviews with Matthew David Stewart following the Jan. 4, 2012, shootout at his Ogden home in which one officer was killed.