Police officer dies as siege ends in polygamist’s arrest

A burst of gunfire ended a 13-day standoff today between a polygamist clan and the police. An officer was killed and the group’s leader was seriously wounded.

Officials said the shooting occurred just after dawn as police officers who had infiltrated the clan’s compound used a trained dog to try to isolate the leader, Addam Swapp, and his brother, Jonathan, from the log house they had just left.

None of the nine children in the compound were injured, the authorities said. In the exchange, the police dog’s handler, Lieut. Fred House, 35 years old, was fatally wounded and Mr. Swapp, 27, was shot in an arm and his chest. Lieutenant House’s dog hesitated after being ordered to attack; the lieutenant, in the compound house’s doorway, stood up to urge the dog on, and was shot.

”It’s my understanding that the officer was fired upon first,” said John T. Nielsen, the State Public Safety Director. He said an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been shot in the chest but was unhurt because the shot did not penetrate his bulletproof vest.

‘All of the Children Are Safe’

”In the succeeding, following moments after the gunfire, the agents moved in an armored personnel carrier to evacuate those who were wounded and they came under extremely heavy gunfire from the residence,” Mr. Nielsen said. However, the shooting soon ended and the clan’s four other adults and nine children filed out of the house in two groups.

(Article continues below this ad)

”If there’s anything to be happy about in this tragic situation that all of the children are safe,” Mr. Nielsen said.

The siege began early Jan. 16, a few hours after the the Mormon Church’s chapel, half a mile from the compound, was bombed. The police talked by telephone with Mr. Swapp, who said the bombing had been an act of revenge against the church and the state for the killing by the police in 1979 of the polygamist clan’s patriarch, John Singer. Mr. Swapp told others that he had sought an armed confrontation to bring on the resurrection of Mr. Singer.

On Wednesday afternoon, Ogden Kraut, a friend of the Swapp family, delivered to the police Wednesday afternoon Mr. Swapp’s response to a letter from Gov. Norman H. Bangerter that pleaded with the clan leader to surrender. Response Was a Warning

In the reponse, Mr. Nielsen said, Mr. Swapp ”declared his ranch and people an independent and free nation” and warned he would use any means to defend the two-and-a-half-acre compound. ”It was not veiled,” Mr. Nielsen said, referring to the clan leader’s response. ”It was clearly taken as a threat that any attempt to effect an arrest of him would be met with force.” Mr. Nielsen said it was then decided to seize Mr. Swapp on Federal warrants accusing him in the church bombing.

In 1979 Mr. Singer was shot to death outside the compound by police officers who were seeking to arrest him. There had been an an 18-day siege. Mr. Singer had defied a court order to send his children to public schools. He is said to have drawn a gun before he was killed.

Mr. Swapp is married to two daughter of Mr. Singer and is the father of six of the clan’s children. He is reported in serious but stable condition at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City. His brother Jonathan, 21, was not injured, the police said. When the Trap Was Sprung

Lieutenant House, the dog handler, was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, said a hospital spokesman, John Dwan. Mr. Dwan said a bullet entered the officer’s abdomen under his flak jacket.

According to legislators at Salt Lake City who had been briefed by the Governor, law-enforcement officers were ready early today to take Mr. Swapp into custody, but they could not get into position to isolate him from the main house that held the rest of the clan.

They then tried for the second time to set a trap by installing a booby-trapped loudspeaker. It would set off a bright flash if it was moved and Mr. Swapp would be blinded by the flash, as the dogs and their handlers subdued him.

However, they said, Mr. Swapp fired at the loudspeaker, apparently tipping it over and setting off a flash that was not as bright as had been hoped for. A similar booby trap had been tried this week and had failed. Federal agents said that they found an assortment of weapons and explosives in the barricaded house. It appeared to be well fortified, the Federal agents said.

Mr. Kraut, who is a proponent of polygamy, had been admitted to the compound Wednesday to be handed Mr. Swapp’s response to the Governor, Mr. Kraut said later today: ”I sort of feel like I failed, but I did all I could. There was only two ways it could end. They could either give up, or shooting.”

Possibly Related Products

Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
AP, via the New York Times, USA
Jan. 29, 1988
www.nytimes.com

More About This Subject

This post was last updated: Aug. 27, 2013