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Drug raid charges: Did Army vet ambush Ogden cops?

Published January 14, 2012 1:07 pm

Ogden • Documents say Stewart fired at officers "from a concealed position at close range" with a 9 mm pistol.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

Prosecutors on Friday charged a 37-year-old Ogden man with fatally shooting one police officer and wounding five others, describing in detail the sequence of violence and chaos that erupted during a Jan. 4 drug raid.

It appears Matthew David Stewart had only a handgun as he combatted members of the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force and an army of responding officers. An affidavit filed with charging documents states Stewart first fired on officers executing a warrant at his home "from a concealed position at close range with a Beretta 9 mm semi-automatic pistol."

The document does not specify Stewart's exact location but says police were clearing the first floor and basement of Stewart's home at 3268 Jackson Ave. at the time.

Ogden police Officer Shawn Grogan was shot in the face and fell to the floor, according to the affidavit. Another officer, Derek Draper, returned fire and was fired upon. Draper has not been listed among those wounded.

The affidavit states other officers ran to the aid of Grogan and Draper while Stewart continued firing. Ogden police Officer Jared Francom, who died of injuries suffered in the shootout and was buried Wednesday, was hit six times. Officer Kasey Burrell, who remained hospitalized Friday, was struck "at least twice," according to the affidavit.

Stewart shot Weber County Sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson "several times as he engaged the suspect and helped wounded officers evacuate the residence," the affidavit continues. Meanwhile, a bullet struck Roy Officer James VanderWarf in the right hip.

The affidavit states Stewart then "advanced on the officers" as they were evacuating the house and continued shooting as they went toward the street.

Ogden police Officer Michael Rounkles, who was not on the strike force and remained hospitalized Friday, responded to a call of shots being fired and drove to the home. Rounkles ran into the house to help the strike force, and Stewart shot him twice as he entered, according to the affidavit.

When police left the home, Stewart went to the front door and continued shooting at officers in the street and front yard, firing upon some of the wounded, the affidavit states. Police returned fire. Stewart then exited a northeast bedroom window and entered a small storage shed.

From the shed, Stewart fired at another Ogden police officer, Tyler Crouch, who was in the backyard, the affidavit states. Crouch has not been listed among the injured.

The affidavit does not describe how the ordeal ended or specify when Stewart suffered injuries that left him hospitalized. Stewart has been kept under guard at a hospital since the shooting with what police have described only as non-life-threatening wounds. As of Friday evening, he had not been booked into the Weber County jail.

The affidavit quotes acquaintances Stewart spoke with in the summer of 2011. Stewart allegedly said if police attempted to stop his marijuana growing, he planned to "go out in a blaze of glory and shoot to kill."

It's unclear if the affidavit is quoting Stewart or the acquaintances. It's also unclear when police learned of the alleged statements.

Police have previously said they had no indication Stewart would be violent, and so they received a "knock and announce" search warrant rather than a warrant that would have allowed them to enter the house without warning. Weber County Attorney Dee Smith has also said Stewart's gun was legally purchased.

The affidavit goes to lengths to demonstrate Stewart knew, or should have known, he was firing at police officers. It describes the officers as announcing themselves when arriving at the home and when entering. It points out Rounkles was in a standard police uniform and that Stewart would have seen flashing lights from police cars when he looked outside the front door toward the retreating officers.

The day after the shootout, a drug task force from Davis County executed the original search warrant and found "multiple marijuana plants, artificial lighting and a water system," the affidavit says. The drug charge is enhanced because Stewart's house is across the street from an LDS Church.

Stewart is charged with nine counts: aggravated murder, seven counts of attempted murder and one charge of producing a controlled substance. Smith has previously said he plans to seek the death penalty in the case.

On Friday, Stewart's attorney, Randy Richards, said he has been able to speak with his client. Richards declined to discuss their conversations but said: "I wish I knew what happened that night."

Stewart's father, Michael Stewart, has questioned police tactics in the raid. He claims officers mishandled their initial investigation into his son's marijuana-growing activities. He says his son, an Army veteran, suffers from depression and anxiety and grew marijuana to self-medicate.

Rounkles, 29, whose condition had slipped on Thursday to serious, was upgraded on Friday to fair condition and is expected to recover. Burrell, 33, remained hospitalized in fair condition Friday. The three other wounded officers — Grogan, 37, VanderWarf, 37, and Hutchinson — were released earlier.

Bob Mims and Cimaron Neugebauer contributed to this report.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com Twitter: @natecarlisle —

How are injured officers doing?

Michael Rounkles, 29 • His condition had slipped on Thursday to serious, but was upgraded Friday to fair condition and is expected to recover.

Kasey Burrell, 33 • Remained hospitalized in fair condition Friday.

Shawn Grogan, 37 • Has been released

James VanderWarf, 37 • Has been released

Nate Hutchinson • Has been released