Ogden • Police responding to a home where a woman feared for her life were met by bullets fired through the front door. They fatally struck an officer and another was injured, leaving Utah’s law enforcement community heartbroken.
The woman had dialed 911 shortly after noon Thursday, telling dispatchers her husband was threatening to kill her. When officers arrived at the house near Bonneville Park, the man was on the porch but he wouldn’t cooperate. He shut himself inside and police say he began shooting.
The officer who died had only been on the job for 15 months. Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt declined to release his name for now.
“I’m going to give the family some time to grieve and come to grips with their loss,” Watt said at a brief news conference, where he at times struggled to maintain his composure.
The Ogden officer was dragged away by fellow officers as they returned fire, Watt said. He was taken to McKay-Dee Hospital where a doctor pronounced him dead.
The second officer, with Adult Probation and Parole, is recovering from his injuries.
Numerous officers from many public safety agencies rushed to the area and the Ogden Metro SWAT team helped some children get out of the home. Watt said they found the shooter dead. He declined to name that person.
The event led to a shelter-in-place order received by residents living near Jackson Avenue and 2nd Street, which was lifted at around 2:30 p.m. Police asked residents in the area to stay at their homes for 24 hours to avoid the crime scene.
With this loss, Ogden has now had 10 officers killed in the line of duty in its history.
“Our hearts are broken. We have lost one of our own. The days to come will be hectic for us," Watt said. “Please as a department, as a community, as a state and as a nation let us not forget such fine men and women who every day offer their lives up on behalf of this great and noble calling.”
Police agencies throughout the state expressed their condolences online and in person. A long line of police cars escorted the hearse carrying their dead colleague to the medical examiner. Blue ribbons were placed on trees near Ogden police headquarters.
A few current and aspiring government officials — including Gov. Gary Herbert, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Republican gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman — shared their thoughts on Twitter later in the evening.
“I am heartbroken to hear the news from Ogden this evening,” Herbert wrote. “Standing tall in the line of duty is a brave and noble act, and my prayers are with the fallen officer’s family and friends. Tonight, the whole state mourns with @OGDEN_POLICE.”
Cox added: “Terrible news for our friends in the @OGDEN_POLICE department today. Our hearts are broken at the tragic loss of a dedicated public servant. Our prayers go out to his family and colleagues at this difficult time.”
Huntsman added: “My heart breaks for the officers in Ogden who were shot in the line of duty earlier today. The Huntsman family sends our condolences to the families who must deal with the aftermath of this senseless tragedy.”
Utah’s Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement on Facebook saying, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The worst days in this profession are those where we lose our brothers and sisters in the line of duty. Information is still being gathered. Take a moment to think on and honor the fallen officer, their family, their colleagues, and their communities.”
Before Thursday, 145 Utah peace officers died in the line of duty since 1853, according to the state’s fallen officer memorial. The last was Joseph Shinners, an officer with Provo police. He was shot Jan. 5, 2019, in Orem as he and police from that city were trying to apprehend a suspect. Shinners later died at Utah Valley Hospital.
Seven years to the day before Shinners death, Ogden Officer Jared Francom was shot to death while serving a search warrant with the local drug task force.
Domestic violence-related calls are the most dangerous officers respond to, according to a 2017 report on police deaths by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
The Department of Justice-funded report found that 29% of all police officers killed between 2010 and 2016 were responding to domestic disputes.
Like in Thursday’s fatal shooting, researchers found perpetrators on these calls often shoot officers before they entered the home.
“Even in the case of what is considered a routine matter, no one can predict how someone will react when dealing with an intense matter. These calls are a recipe for disaster and present a great threat to the safety of the officers who must answer them,” the report said.
Reporters Paighten Harkins, Nate Carlisle, Alex Vejar and Scott D. Pierce contributed to this article.