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Utah family held hostage offers thanks; cameras failed to capture shooting of gunman

An image from Facebook shows the Farmington home where a gunman held a family hostage for multiple hours before he was shot and killed by police on Sept. 10.

An image from Facebook shows the Farmington home where a gunman held a family hostage for multiple hours before he was shot and killed by police on Sept. 10. (Facebook)



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

FARMINGTON — When an intruder slipped into a Farmington family's home through an open window in the middle of the night and took them hostage earlier this month, deputies in Davis County put out a call for help.

A police sniper and other members of a SWAT team from Salt Lake City answered the call before dawn on Sept. 10, helping to rescue the family that sustained only minor physical injuries. The sniper shot and killed the suspect, Joseph Anthony Manhard, 32, police said.

But the details of what happened on Sept. 10 still remain unclear. Salt Lake police said Friday they aren't releasing video recordings of the standoff or the shooting — at least not yet.

A camera set up to capture the chain of events from the sniper's point of view wasn't recording, even though it appears officers believed that it was, Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said in a statement. The camera captured the aftermath of the shooting, and other officers' body cameras were working. But Brown said the footage shows the inside of a person's home and the rendering of medical or mental health treatment, and releasing it as is would violate state law and city ordinances.

"In this incident, there is no (video) from either the sniper operator or the spotter that captured the moments immediately leading up to the use of deadly force or the actual use of deadly force," Brown said.

Manhard later died from his injuries at a hospital. Those in the home, including two men, two women and a girl, were traumatized but suffered only minor injuries, according to police.

The family has spent the last two weeks recovering and rebuilding their home, expressing their gratitude on social media.

"To our law enforcement, it's with tears streaming down my face that I THANK YOU for your diligence in what seemed to be eternity," the homeowner wrote in a Facebook post. "YOU saved our lives. There are no words to adequately express my sincere gratitude for you now and forever. We are blessed."

She also thanked family and friends who offered support and neighbors who found the family's dog, who got away. She said it is "incredibly difficult to explain the details of our horrifying event the other day. All I can say is, I am beyond grateful for the many prayers, messages and gifts showering us with love."

One of her children agreed in a Facebook post.

"We are so grateful for the police, SWAT, and the crisis hotline," she said. "We are especially grateful to the brave man who saved our lives in the end."

The officer who shot Manhard is on paid administrative leave. Brown and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall commended the selflessness and expertise he and his colleagues demonstrated that day.

The department's snipers shoot while in a prone position, with chest down and back up, Brown noted, so they work with an officer acting as a spotter to set up a freestanding camera. Brown said it appears the pair in Davis County sought to turn off the device after the shooting, but it hadn't been recording and they actually turned the camera on at that moment.

Per policy, Salt Lake police are required to publicly release footage of shootings by officers within 10 business days. The department hasn't said whether it plans to redact the sensitive information and release the videos at a later date.

A fundraising page has been set up to help the family recover from the ordeal that left their home riddled with "bullet holes, broken windows, kicked-down doors and more."

"They went through things no one should ever have to endure," a family member wrote on the page. "It was a horrific day for them and our entire family. The miracle is that they are all physically OK, but they will need lots of counseling as they heal."

A dramatic standoff and manhunt preceded the family's harrowing experience. Manhard had carjacked a woman and almost crashed into a police vehicle during a chase, police said. Officers also discovered that a bullet had been shot into a second house.

He had been charged the same day in 2nd District Court with crimes including aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping, both first-degree felonies. An arrest warrant said he threatened to kill the woman he victimized in that case.

Troopers and deputies spotted him on I-15, where officers spiked the fleeing vehicle's tires but Manhard got out of the car and ran across the freeway, hopping fences into a nearby neighborhood. Police believe he entered the family's house around 2:30 a.m. In the first half-hour of being held hostage, two of the family members managed to escape and notify police.

Officers attempted to negotiate with Manhard for several hours, and gunfire erupted just after 9 a.m., although it's not clear what prompted police to shoot. Authorities asked those in the neighborhood to stay in their homes as two nearby schools postponed start times.

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