Report: North Ogden killing, shootout stemmed from estate dispute; officers’ use of force deemed justified
The killing last April of a North Ogden man by his brother, which led to a deadly shootout with police, apparently stemmed from a dispute over management of the estate of the two men’s mother.
Jeff Roberts traveled to his brother’s North Ogden home on April 27 “and without provocation, murdered Scott Roberts and attempted to murder Jodi Roberts,” Scott Roberts’ wife, reads the report into the incident. “There had been a long-standing feud between the brothers and other family members over the family estate.”
The Weber County Attorney’s Office Force Investigation Team carried out the investigation, as is standard in response to officer-involved shootings, helping shed light on what sparked the violent incident more than four months ago. Jeff Roberts fired on the three North Ogden police officers who responded to the April 27 incident and they, in turn, shot and killed him.
Beyond that, the report — supplied to the Standard-Examiner in response to a public records request — served as the basis of Weber County Attorney Christopher Allred’s determination that the use of deadly force by the three officers was justified. Allred explained his decision in an Aug. 18 letter to North Ogden Police Chief Dirk Quinney, also supplied as part of the records request.
The sole officer who provided a statement to investigators “stated unequivocally that he feared for his life as Jeff Roberts was shooting at him. Bullets were hitting the mailbox (where he sought cover) and missing (the officer) by mere inches,” reads Allred’s letter. “Therefore (the officer) was obviously justified in using deadly force when he returned fire on Jeff.”
The other two officers involved did not talk to investigators. However, police body camera footage of the incident and other evidence supports a finding that they too would have believed deadly force was necessary, Allred determined. “Both officers were standing in the driveway, just yards away from Jeff during the firefight. From their position they would have seen Jeff shooting toward (the other officer) and at them,” he wrote.
The Standard-Examiner is not naming the three officers who responded that day, as it was determined they engaged in no wrongdoing.
The April incident was an anomaly in North Ogden, a quiet, upscale community. Aside from killing his brother — formerly a Mississippi State University professor — and trying to kill his sister-in-law, Jeff Roberts set their home ablaze using three road flares, extensively damaging the structure.
‘BITTER ABOUT HIS FAMILY’
In a video report released last May by the Weber County Attorney’s Office, footage from the doorbell camera at Scott Roberts’ home shows Jeff Roberts arriving unexpectedly and ringing the doorbell. Scott Roberts answers, a short, terse conversation ensues and then Jeff Roberts — who had traveled to Utah in a roundabout way from his home in Long Beach, California — pulls out a gun and shoots and kills his brother.
He would subsequently shoot and injure Jodi Roberts inside the home and ignite the three flares. Then instead of fleeing, Allred notes in his letter, he returned to his van parked in the driveway of the home, retrieved more guns and ammo and went back inside the house. “It appears that Jeff anticipated a shootout with police,” Allred wrote.
The three officers arrived soon thereafter, leading to the shootout that left Jeff Roberts dead, facedown on the stoop in front of his brother’s burning home.
In piecing together a possible motive, the Weber County Attorney’s Office Force Investigation Team report noted a family conflict over management of the estate of Jean Roberts, mother of the Roberts brothers.
Jeff Roberts had been managing his mother’s finances, but amid concerns of other family members over the arrangement, Jean Roberts’ brother helped Jean regain control. Jean Roberts had been living in Long Beach with Jeff Roberts but later moved to North Ogden and then Missouri, asking her son to vacate the California home they had shared.
Jeff Roberts’ “friends said that he was always bitter about his family and would talk about them often,” reads the investigation.
He had had little to no contact with Scott Roberts or another brother for several years before the April 27 incident. But notably, about a week before the incident, Jean Roberts’ brother and Scott Roberts had started efforts to make Scott Roberts the executor of the woman’s estate. Some of the story is spelled out in a 27-page letter found in Jeff Roberts’ van after he was killed.
Jeff Roberts “believed that his brothers and uncle manipulated his mother and convinced her to leave California and cut him out of the estate,” reads the investigation into the matter, citing the letter and other interviews. “In his letter he accused Scott and Jodi of lying, again telling Jean that Jeff was getting too much of the estate. … He, on the other hand, had done the most for his mother and had gotten nothing out of it.”
As for the shootout with the North Ogden officers — which lasted about 20 seconds — the report states that the first shot seemed to come from Jeff Roberts’ shotgun.
The officer who gave a statement on the shootout said Jeff Roberts, charging out the front door of his brother’s home, appeared “mad” when he arrived. The officer drove to the front of the home and took cover behind a brick mailbox near the curb.
“Jeff immediately began shooting at (the officer). (The officer) took cover behind a brick mailbox which was probably four-feet tall and three-feet wide at the most. Upwards of thirteen bullet impacts were discovered on the mailbox itself, as well as several bullet impacts on (the officer’s) vehicle,” reads Allred’s letter. It goes on: “It is nothing short of miraculous that (the officer) was not hit by gunfire, and he was fortunate that the brick mailbox was located where it was or he most likely would have been shot.”
The three officers fired an estimated 52 times between them while the report estimates Jeff Roberts fired perhaps 30 or more shots, striking a home across the street, among other things. “It is clear from the evidence that Jeff Roberts was trying to kill as many people as possible before being shot himself,” the report states.