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STANSBURY PARK, Tooele County — An armed military recruiter was shot and killed at his home early Sunday during a confrontation with a Tooele County sheriff's deputy.
About 4 a.m., the deputy and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper responded to a medical call at 34 Marion Dr. in Stansbury Park. When they arrived, they observed an altercation taking place between a man and a woman inside the house.
The deputy and the trooper saw that the man, identified as 28-year-old Nicholas McGehee, had a shotgun, and they escorted his wife to a safe area after she stepped out of the home, said Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park.
As they were doing so, McGehee came to the front door carrying the shotgun, then went back inside and slammed the door, the sheriff said.
As the deputy was walking back toward his vehicle, Park said McGehee "came out of the house again carrying a handgun, pointed the handgun at the deputy. And at that time, the deputy gave him verbal commands to put the gun down, and he didn't. (McGehee) raised the gun, aiming at the deputy, and the deputy shot him."
Park said the deputy fired three times, though it was unclear how many shots hit McGehee, who died at the scene. Neither McGehee's wife nor the deputy were injured.
Richard Gibson, a neighbor, said the couple moved into the neighborhood about two years ago. McGehee was a Purple Heart recipient and he helped recruit Gibson's son into the Army. As a veteran of the Air Force, Gibson said he and McGehee would talk together about their service in the military.
"He'd come over here and he thanked me for my service," Gibson said, adding that McGehee was "very patriotic," had served overseas and been wounded. Park said McGehee's wife originally called for medical assistance Sunday because her husband had stepped on some broken glass and cut his foot "quite bad." But details of why the couple were arguing and why McGehee allegedly aimed a gun at police were unknown Sunday.
It was unbelievable that it happened this close and that it happened to somebody that you knew. It's just really too bad. I feel sad for his wife and for his family, and I don't know the circumstances, but I also feel sad for the officer that took his life.
–Richard Gibson, neighbor
"She called to get some medical help, and it just went bad from there," Park said.
Investigators at the scene said alcohol may have played a role in the incident. Gibson said he woke up shortly after 4 a.m. to "what sounded like three shots — boom, boom, boom." About 30 minutes later, police lights were visible through his front window.
Gibson said he was "just shocked" when he learned what happened.
"It was unbelievable that it happened this close and that it happened to somebody that you knew. It's just really too bad," he said. "I feel sad for his wife and for his family, and I don't know the circumstances, but I also feel sad for the officer that took his life."
Park said the deputy who fired the shots was wearing a body camera, but it wasn't turned on because of a department policy for officers responding to medical incidents. When the situation became dangerous, the deputy didn't have time to turn the camera on, he said.
The sheriff declined to identify the deputy involved in the shooting, but said he is a patrol sergeant and that he was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The incident is being handled by the Utah Department of Public Safety's State Bureau of Investigation.
TV talk show host and comedian Craig Ferguson mentioned McGehee twice on Twitter in 2011 after sitting next to him on a plane:
"Sgt. Nicholas McGehee. US Army. Vet of 2 tours in Iraq and my seat buddy on the flight to London."
"Sgt. McGehee. US Army Purple Heart recipient."
More than 100 people retweeted the tweets, and many thanked him for his service.
Contributing: Nkoyo Iyamba and Brianna Bodily