The Salt Lake Tribune
By Bob Mims
Jan 10 2012 10:29AM
Doctors upgraded the last of three still-hospitalized, wounded police officers to fair condition Tuesday, even as the Ogden area’s law enforcement community prepared to bury the one lawman killed in a Jan. 4 drug raid gone horribly wrong.
Ogden police Officer Kasey Burrell, 33, joined fellow Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force members Shawn Grogan, 37, and Michael Rounkles, 29, also Ogden officers, as being listed in fair condition, said McKay-Dee Hospital spokesman Chris Dallin.
Burrell earlier had been critical and in a medically-induced coma following surgery to remove bullets from his head and abdomen.
Two other strike force members wounded in the raid — Roy police Officer Jason VanderWarf, 37, and Weber County Sheriff’s Sgt. Nate Hutchinson — were released earlier.
Meanwhile, the family of 30-year-old slain Ogden police Officer Jared Francom has set his funeral for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the 14,000-seat Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State University, 4450 Harrison Blvd., in Ogden.
Interment will be at the Ogden Cemetery.
The Ogden Public Works Department had asked area Mormon church wards and stake centers to place up to 5,000 large American lawn flags along the route from the funeral site to Francom’s final resting place; another 5,000 small, hand-held flags are being made available for those standing along the route.
Still under guard at an unspecified medical facility Tuesday was shooting suspect Matthew David Stewart, a 37-year-old Army veteran, recovering from non-life threatening injuries sustained during the raid gun battle. Police have declined to detail those injuries.
At a Monday press conference, Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said he expects to charge Stewart with aggravated murder, which carries the possibility of the death penalty, as soon as he is released from the hospital. Smith did not know how much longer Stewart may be hospitalized.
In a related development, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed that bomb technicians detonated “explosive materials” or components found inside Stewart’s house Saturday. ATF would not specify what was found but said that characterizing the items as a bomb would not be accurate.
Officers searching Matthew Stewart’s house had found a photo of Stewart dressed “as a terrorist” with “some kind of bomb device,” according to Smith.
But Stewart’s father, Michael Stewart, told The Salt Lake Tribune the photo actually shows his son dressed for Halloween as Osama bin Laden.
He said he believes the chemicals found by police were used by his son to grow marijuana, which apparently spurred the strike force to obtain the search warrant they attempted to execute on Stewart’s Ogden home at 3268 Jackson Avenue.
Michael Stewart has questioned police tactics and claims police “botched” the initial investigation into his son’s marijuana growing activities. He claims his son — who suffers from depression and anxiety — grew marijuana to self-medicate and is not a drug dealer.
Smith said he anticipates filing a charge of cultivation of marijuana. Matthew Stewart also is suspected of eight counts of attempted murder, Smith said.
The prosecutor said he is “confident” friendly fire did not cause any of the officers’ injuries. He said that a number of police were wounded as they were giving aid to other officers or trying to remove officers from the scene.
Smith said he was prohibited by ethical considerations — and the need to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation — from revealing other details of the shootout.
The case “makes you appreciate the good people you have around you,” Smith said. “They are doing a good job and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
He added: “I don’t know if the state has ever experienced something of this magnitude.”