Friday , April 06, 2018 - 2:45 PM
KAYSVILLE — One police officer remained hospitalized Friday following an incident where a man set himself on fire in a Kaysville convenience store.
The person who set himself on fire is a 26-year-old man from the Ogden or South Ogden area, according to Kaysville Police Chief Solomon Oberg. Although police have released the man’s identity, the Standard-Examiner generally does not name those involved in suicide attempts. The man remains hospitalized in critical condition.
Just before 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 5, police officers were dispatched to a “suicidal subject” call at the Chevron convenience store at 321 W. 200 North. A man had poured gasoline on himself in the bathroom of the store, then threatened to light himself on fire with a lighter, according to Oberg. He said patrol officers, as well as a school resource officer and a detective, arrived with lights and siren.
When they arrived, officers worked to secure the scene. Oberg said there was a concern that there might still be people in the convenience store, and officers were trying to evacuate the parking lot.
“The man was trying to light himself on fire, and a couple of officers were trying to subdue him and take the lighter away from him,” Oberg said. “At some point the man got his clothes to catch on fire, and susbequently it caught some of the officers on fire.”
Oberg said some of the officers were “briefly flashed” with fire, others “to the point where we had to put the fire out.” He said there was a period of time after the incident where officers were trying to secure the man to make sure he didn’t have another lighter or other weapon.
“We also had an officer inside who was down at the time,” Oberg said.
Four officers were sent to the hospital by ambulance. Two others were taken to the hospital later, to be treated for smoke inhalation, according to Oberg.
The identities of the police officers involved in the incident have not yet been released. Oberg said he’ll probably release those names on Monday.
“I think we will release them, but we’re just trying to give them a little time with their families right now,” he said.
As for the officer who remains in the hospital, Oberg says his condition is unchanged from Thursday, and that “he’s hurting.”
“They tell me he’s probably looking at two weeks up there at the hospital, and then obviously there’ll be some time to recover,” Oberg said. “We’re hoping for a full recovery, but it’s pretty early on in the healing process.”
Oberg said he believes the officer still in the hospital slipped in the gasoline on the floor of the convenience store and got parts of his uniform soaked, which would account for the burns. The officer suffered significant burns to one arm, as well as his back, buttocks and legs.
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Oberg said the timing of the incident “wasn’t great.” Area schools were on spring break this week, so several officers were already gone on vacation with their children.
“We were running thin as it is,” he said.
But Oberg said he’s confident the department, which boasts 27 officers, will muddle through.
“We’ve just got some very dedicated peole here who are stepping up and working extra hours,” he said. “In fact, when the call came in, whe had all our officers — even though they weren’t on duty — get dressed, come into work, falling into place and taking over shifts.”
Oberg praised his officers for their quick action during the encounter.
“They knew there were people in that store and wanted to evacuate them, as well as help a man who was struggling mentally,” he said. “They put themselves in harm’s way to protect others.”
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