UPDATE: Thousands attend funeral of Utah police officer (with pictures)

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — A Utah police officer killed in a gunbattle last week with a suspected pot grower has been buried in a tear-filled ceremony that featured a 21-gun salute and the release of about a dozen white doves into the bright blue winter sky.The burial Wednesday of undercover police officer Jared Francom at the Ogden City Cemetery also included the playing of Taps and a police dispatcher’s broadcast of a final radio call.Afterward, uniformed officers streamed pasted Francom’s casket, some leaving behind their white gloves.Francom was killed after police tried to serve a search warrant on Jan. 4. Five others from the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Task Force were injured. Three remained hospitalized Wednesday in fair condition.Suspect Matthew David Stewart was cornered in a backyard shed before he was shot and wounded by police.THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.Thousands of uniformed police officers stood and saluted Wednesday as the flag-draped casket of a Utah officer killed in a gunbattle was wheeled into a university arena.The vast majority of the 4,000 people in attendance were officers who traveled to Weber State University to honor Ogden police officer Jared Francom, who died last week in a shootout that left five other officers and a suspected pot-grower wounded.Despite near freezing outdoor temperatures, several thousand more people lined the city’s streets along the route to the cemetery where Francom was to be buried later Wednesday.”What a sight to see,” Travis Francom told mourners while looking around the arena. “I know my brother would be proud, because we all are his family.”Jared Francom was with nearly a dozen others from the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Task Force trying to serve a search warrant when the shooting broke out on Jan. 4.The 30-year-old loved his job so much that he found it hard to take a night off, said Shane Keyes, a strike force colleague. When he did, he checked in with team members by phone and text to see if they were safe and if he was missing a big or exciting case.”That saying – `a cop’s cop’ – that was made for a guy like Jared,” Keyes said.Another brother, Ben Francom, said Jared was an “adrenaline junkie” who loved skydiving and had a “go big or go home attitude.” But he was also a lighthearted person.”He loved to crack jokes or to smile, just to keep the mood light and keep everyone around him less stressed,” he said.Francom was also remembered for his passion for the Dallas Cowboys, and for the wife and two young daughters he called each night he was on duty.”He always ended every phone call with how much he loved his girls and missed them and couldn’t wait to see them,” Keyes said.Travis Francom said he and his older brother had a typical relationship”He picks on me, I pick on him … I’d usually start to cry and then I’d get him in trouble,” he said, drawing laughter.He added that he was grateful to know that when his brother “went down, he was fighting and that he was fighting for his comrades.”City officials planned a 90-minute procession along the four-mile route to the Ogden City Cemetery, where Francom will be buried. The six officers serving as pallbearers are from the narcotics strike force.April Matthews of nearby Morgan brought her 12-year-old son and three members of his Boy Scout troop to watch the procession.”These boys have lots of days to go to school, but this is the first officer we’ve lost in 30 years,” she said. “I hope this will make an impression on them about the service our officers provide.”Five other members of the narcotics team were also wounded in the Jan. 4 raid, some critically. Three remained hospitalized, but all had been upgraded to fair condition by Tuesday and one – Shawn Grogan – was brought to Wednesday’s funeral in an ambulance.Suspect Matthew David Stewart was cornered in a backyard shed before he was shot by police. When doctors clear him for release, the 37-year-old Army veteran will be immediately arrested on suspicion of aggravated murder, marijuana cultivation and eight counts of attempted aggravated murder, Weber County Attorney Dee W. Smith said.Smith has also said he’ll pursue the death penalty against Stewart.Stewart’s father, a 67-year-old private investigator, said he was in grief for the fallen officers but angry that authorities stormed his son’s house for a pot offense. Michael Stewart believes his son was abruptly awakened before the start of his Walmart nightshift and that he “got into a fight and tried to get away.”Stewart has said his son suffers from anxiety and depression and might have been growing pot for his own use.”My son was not right, but two wrongs don’t make a right,” Stewart said.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!