Ogden standoff ends; suspect shoots himself

Jun 20 2011 - 12:54pm

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(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) A crime scene investigator examines the room and the nearby area after the end of a 16-hour standoff at an Ogden motel.
(ANTHONY SOUFFLE/Standard-Examiner) A crime scene investigator examines the room and the nearby area after the end of a 16-hour standoff at an Ogden motel.

OGDEN -- Jason Valdez was holed up in his motel room and faced with two choices: fight the SWAT teams outside or listen to the negotiators and his family who urged him to surrender peacefully.

That was Friday night. Late Saturday morning, crime scene investigators walked through the downtown motel room to photograph the blown out windows and bullet holes in the wall. The 36-year-old was in surgery at McKay-Dee Hospital with what police report was a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his chest.

Whatever he had ultimately made up his mind to do, he was prepared for the way his 16-hour standoff with the Ogden and Weber County SWAT teams ended: violently.

"I love u guyz and if I don't make it out of here alive that I'm in a better place and u were all great friends," he had written on his Facebook page hours before.

It all started when officers tried to serve a felony drug-related warrant on him around 5 p.m. on Friday. But he barricaded himself in his second floor room of the Western Colonial Inn at 234 24th St., armed with a handgun. Veronica, an acquaintence, was in there with him.

When police asked him to come out peacefully, he said neither of them was leaving and law enforcement would have a fight their hands if they tried to force them out, said Police Lt. Eric Young.

His sister, Jessica Reyes, was not ready to lose another family member. She lost her teenage son last year when he was hit by a FrontRunner train. She just wanted to see him walk out.

She, her family and Jensen's family gathered outside the motel and waited, hoping for the best.

Reyes worried that police scared him into this situation.

"Fear can trigger different behavior in someone," she said. He had nowhere to run. Not that he could -- he's disabled, Reyes said. He walks with a limp.

On top of that, Valdez was tired of feeling profiled, tired of being harassed by the police, tired of the system -- and he did not want to be behind bars again, said Manuel Navarro, Valdez's cousin. Valdez, who police said is a known member of the Nortenos gang, got out of Weber County Jail earlier this year, he said.

It was a long, tense night for everyone. Valdez's family and friends maintained contact with him through Facebook, encouraging him to end it peacefully, while negotiators tried to talk him into the same.

But negotiations broke down.

"Well everyone im letting Veronica go here real soon but this is the end," he wrote on his Facebook page around 5 a.m.

But that's now how Saturday morning played out. About two hours later, Valdez wrote that he tried to let her go, but SWAT attempted to come in after he told them not to, so he fired shots "and now were startin all over again it seems".

Around 10 a.m., Weber County SWAT team members moved in and detonated a stun grenade. They grabbed Veronica from the room, handcuffed her and marched her away from the motel.

The handcuffs are protocol in any stand-off situation until police can identify everyone who was inside, Lt. Shawn Hamblin.

Valdez shot at the SWAT team before moving into another room where he shot himself in the upper torso, said Police Lt. Shawn Hamblin. Valdez still would not cooperate, but officers eventually got him into an ambulance and rushed him to the hospital.

As of Saturday evening, he was in critical but stable condition, Hamblin said.

Veronica, after being questioned throughout the morning, was released from police custody, he said. He could not comment whether she would face any charges.

Standard-Examiner staffers Anthony Souffle and Bryon Saxton contributed to this story.

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