The shooting: Nobody knows what happened

I have been reluctant to write any columns about the police shooting in Ogden that killed Officer Francom because I don’t have anything constructive to add to the conversation and don’t know any of the facts of the case.

Nobody else knows any but the most basic facts either, but that hasn’t stopped hundreds from mouthing off.

People who comment on stories on web sites need to be studied by someone with expertise on demented psychology. There are 172 comments posted on just one story about the accused shooter’s attorney being appointed (click) . It’s a wide debate over whether the cops messed up, whether the accused shooter was laying in wait, whether he was innocent, and on and on and on.

As is typical on chatboards, half the commens are irrational and absolutely everyone is taking a beating. A few trolls, especially, seem to know everything and are going to make sure everyone knows it.

One guy, rather ominously, says that he’s a gun afficianado who believes in the 2nd Amendment and if anyone crashes into his home they’re going to meet gunfire coming the other way too.

OK, we know that guy is scary, but nobody knows what happened in that house.

Nobody. Not the investigators, not the chief of police, not the shooter and not the surviving members of the squad of officers who went in.

We all THINK we know because we’ve seen TV and movies, or read stories. But nobody knows and nobody may ever know. That especially includes the people involved. Memories are the most plastic substance on the planet, eyewitnesses rarely see what they think they see, and in the panic of a shooting encounter like that nobody doing the shooting is going to remember as much as they should or even think they do.

The only things I know for  certain is that one officer is dead, five others are wounded, and the one guy who lived in that house is wounded. I suppose we can say for certain that there were a lot of guns at the scene.

We also know for certain that tragedy of varying degrees has struck seven families in our community.

Beyond that, I don’t know anything, not for certain.

While I am reluctant to hinder the public discourse, if you think you do know something else  for sure about this, I suggest you hold off expressing it until the formal investigations are done. Wait and see if what they reveal, as flawed as they are guaranteed to be, is close to what you thought you knew now.

If it is, congratulations, you were right!

If not, aren’t you glad you held off?

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17 Responses to The shooting: Nobody knows what happened

  1. heather rothey fordyce says:

    Well spoken Chuck.
    It would be nice to have all the facts. However, will the general populous have access to the real story? No offense, Chuck, but it seems we get the “sell papers” cut, with the “media sensation” slant.

  2. Mark Shenefelt says:

    “I suppose we can say for certain that there were a lot of guns at the scene.” Yes, that’s about it.

    No matter what the investigators report, one way or another, I can safely predict that many breathless conspiracy theories will abound.

  3. Cari Jennings says:

    I wish the headline writer at The Standard had your same standards. It is too bad he/she used the word “bomb” in the headline when the body of the text specifically said that referring to what was found as a bomb was not accurate. I haven’t found any editorial retraction but I may have missed it.

    • Owain says:

      Charles has standards?

      You wouldn’t know it from the title of this blog post, Mitt Romney, delusional capitalist who fires people
      , where in the second paragraph, Charles admits his own headline is bullshit by saying, “The quote is being taken out of context because everyone thinks it’s cute that the self-styled “job creator” wants to fire people, no matter what the circumstance”.

      I guess ‘Mr High Standards’ didn’t want to let actual facts get in the way of a provocative headline.

  4. Iain Hueton says:

    When a tragedy occurs, it is a natural time to step back and reevaluate the actions that led to the incident. Police officers are highly trained and perform most of their common functions according to strict procedures. In this case, they were exercising a standard warrant. Some have asked why such a large number of officers wee needed for a simple warrant…..fair question. Searching a house from top to bottom takes many man-hours and can therefore be completed and controlled quickly if a large number of officers participate. The officers were not expecting his response, but acted admirably throughout.
    After all the details are in, a review of procedure will be in order. A few suggestions: many Utahns have guns and the police have no way of knowing who will be armed. It would make sense to avoid this type of “knock and search” warrant and risk gunplay, and consider waiting for the individual to arrive at their residence, approach them with weapons drawn, and use them to call into the house after knocking. This puts any other residents on notice that their friend or relative is already in custody and would be at risk if violence started. And, it prevents the individual from accessing any guns they might have in the house. There are many fine minds within the OPD, and I’m sure they will come up with lots of good ideas to ensure their (and our) safety in the future.

    • Swarmi says:

      “The officers were not expecting his response, but acted admirably throughout.”

      See this right there? Not one iota of evidence for that comment.

      They arrived armed to the teeth with semi auto weapons drawn, how could they possibly claim they werent expecting “his response”?

      You dont even know HOW he responded and to WHAT.

      For a clue, google

      Todd blair shooting

      And watch this same team “work admirably throughout” as they shoot him dead from across the room, then step over him as he lies mortally wounded and tell him to “GET ON THE GROUND!”

      There should be video of this botched mess too, but the rogue cops are pulling a Nixon on you.

      So pull your head out.

    • Danny says:

      Planning Commissioner Heuton and reporter Trentleman say we don’t know what happened but that the cops probably were in the right.

      Watch this video, of a Weber County Task Force knock and enter warrant, and say that. These cops are far more dangerous than any criminal element.

  5. Swarmi says:

    Thats all you know? Really?

    You didnt watch this same team shoot down Todd Blair?

    You think busting in like Seal Team Six for pot smokers should be the status quo in your neighborhood?

    OK maybe he had kilos of heroin. Well how many drugs did they find, and how many weapons did he have?

    Oh, you accept Dee’s refusal to comment as his not knowing?


    Keep ignorant, oh blogger, there is a parade of homes coming near you, go there and get the facts on the entertainment system and the backyard water feature. I’m sure the salesmen will tell you all about it.

  6. Bob Becker says:

    The only things I know for certain is that one officer is dead, five others are wounded, and the one guy who lived in that house is wounded. I suppose we can say for certain that there were a lot of guns at the scene.

    A day or so after the event, some newspaper quoted the guy’s father saying he had a gun in his house “for protection.” Couldn’t help wondering that if he hadn’t had that loaded weapon close to hand to grab quickly — for whatever of the many speculation based motives people have attributed to him [PTSD, not yet fully awake, defending self, anger at authorities, etc. etc. etc.] — if the gun hadn’t been there, then the policeman would not have died, five of his fellow officers would not have been shot, nor would the occupant have been shot, nor would he be facing felony murder charges. Because he’d gotten a gun, and kept it loaded close by for, his father claims, “protection.”

    Didn’t afford him much protection, did it. Having the “protection” of a loaded weapon close to hand may well land him on a gurney awaiting the needle or, failing that, in prison for life.

    What a damn pointless loss for all concerned.

  7. Junika says:

    DEA and Police are the terrorist organizations here in the States. Dumb uneducated officers who are “adrenaline junkies” bust into peoples homes for Marijuana? What country is this?

    Especially a man who served in Iraq and is welcomed home with a graveyard shift job at Walmart. So what if he would like to grow some weed to ease his mental pains.

    I grew up around law enforcement > they are pretty much all corrupt and ignorant. Nobody should have the right to storm a persons house over marijuana. Nobody.

    We need to shame these cops and let them not pretend they are “heros” and “protecting the public.” We need to end this sort of mob like behavior. I am disgusted by them and much of America is too.

    Agent Smith is a threat to our liberties and should be removed from position. And for him to seek the death penalty in the manor he has only proves his mob like mentality. They are thugs > not protecting us but acting in deluded selfish fantasy. End the drug war > Let our troops smoke marijuana.

  8. Junika says:

    Google “Court OKs Barring High IQs for Cops” It was reported in the NYT and ABC news and then deleted from their site but still remains on other sites. These cops are NOT heros. They are goons. We need to wake everyone up to this, now.

  9. Dovie says:

    I objected to the Standard’s reporting, first and foremost, that the shooter was a vet with PTSD. While he would technically qualify as a vet, he never saw combat, served 1992-1996 in Germany and Fort Bragg, and the PTSD “diagnosis” came from his dad.

    I saw Mark Saal argue with somebody about whether or not the proximity of the Mormon temple to the shooter’s house should have been mentioned in the article. That issue fails to compare with the faux pas above. Poor fact checking, poor reporting. You went for the sensational headline.

  10. Combat Vet says:

    What we do know for certain is a warrant was lawfully sworn due to an investigation. On the 3rd attempt to serve it ( prior 2 types not known but probably not “enter”) 7 people were shot. During the search afterward, cultivation evidence was seized. The suspects father is estranged and apparently the neighbors did not notice the first two attempts. However the suspect had over 45 rounds of ammunition available, indoor (concealed) green house and a church directly across the street (which enhances drug charges even for pot). It is illegal to “self medicate” with controlled substances and pot is not the treatment for PTSD. This much and more we do know for certain as do all parties involved. There is much these articles could convey to reduce the hyperbole while increasing the amount of accurate “facts” printed. Hopefully the writers will seek out more facts beforehand and produce a story rather than a sophmoric paragraph.

  11. Steve Wickum says:

    Great point Charles. I only wish you would practice such restraint, as you typically publish pointed opinions about matters you know nothing about.

  12. Tracey Radabaugh Minnard says:

    Please visit AMERICANS FOR SWAT

    Originally created to deal with emergency or other very high intensity situations (e.g.snipers, hostages, barracaded suspects), SWAT teams were deployed on fewer than 3000 occasions in all of 1980. Today, SWAT teams conduct raids more than 50,000 times per year, mostly while doing low level drug enforcement.

    Please visit to watch the video “SWAT Raids- No One is Safe”, then sign the petition for responsible SWAT reform to limit SWAT team use to the true emergency or high-intensity situations for which they were created.;
    for footage involving our own SWAT team locally please visit Please be warned of the graphic nature of this video. Viewer discretion advised…
    On a personal note i have viewed two versions of the Todd Blair shooting video and in the original the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force “announced” their presence as per required up to the point of entry however, once Officer Troy Burnett (who was the lead officer on this strike) was in the door only three seconds, and without any warning or command of “drop your weapon” or “get on the ground”, he fired 3 rounds killing Mr Blair instantly with the first shot to the head.


    Please spread the word so others can see the videos & sign the petition too.

  13. Sd Payne says:

    Kidding me?? No drugs found means no drugs found.

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