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FBI says man killed during Provo raid pointed revolver at agents

‘Robertson resisted arrest and as agents attempted to take him into custody, he pointed a .357 revolver at them,’ FBI says

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Law enforcement agents investigate at the residence of Craig Robertson who was shot and killed by FBI agents in Provo on Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023. Officials say Robertson posted threatening comments about President Joe Biden hours before the president was scheduled to visit Utah.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The FBI says Craig Robertson, the Utah man accused of threatening President Joe Biden and others, pointed a revolver at agents as they were trying to arrest him at his home in Provo.

That’s according to a statement from the FBI Monday, the latest update in the raid that left the 75-year-old dead and the first time the bureau explained why agents opened fire.

“The FBI continues to review an agent-involved shooting which occurred around 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday, August 9, 2023 in Provo, Utah. The incident began when special agents attempted to serve arrest and search warrants on 75-year-old Craig Deeleuw Robertson at his home for threats to elected officials and law enforcement officers,” the statement reads.

“Robertson resisted arrest and as agents attempted to take him into custody, he pointed a .357 revolver at them. The FBI takes all shooting incidents involving our agents or task force officers seriously. In accordance with FBI policy, the shooting incident is under review by the FBI’s Inspection Division,” the bureau said.

It’s unclear whether the bureau will release more information around the shooting, saying in Monday’s statement “We have no further details to provide at this time.” It’s also unclear whether the agents were wearing body-worn cameras during the raid.

According to a July 2022 policy notice, special agents or task force officers must “make reasonable efforts to wear and activate their (body worn cameras) for the purpose of recording their actions during FBI pre-planned arrests and searches.”

The policy also directs agents to make “reasonable efforts” to activate cameras “upon approaching subjects or premises” related to a “pre-planned” arrest. It states agents must use cameras “when it is safe and practicable to do so” in case there are unanticipated circumstances, like a “contentious or violent” interaction.

A federal complaint was filed the day before charging Robertson with making interstate threats, making threats against federal law enforcement and making threats against the president.

The bureau also noted that it adheres to the U.S. Department of Justice’s use of force policy, which was adopted in May 2022.

The policy states that agents “may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

The FBI was tight-lipped in the days following the raid, only releasing a short statement that confirmed the bureau had been involved in a fatal shooting and was investigating.

Robertson made detailed and specific threats on his Facebook page to Biden, who arrived later that day in Utah as part of a tour of Western states, including asking whether the state would become famous “as the place a sniper took out Biden the Marxist” and urging Utahns to fire their guns into the air when Air Force One arrives.

Robertson also threatened other high-profile Democrats — he posted about “patriotic dreams” of standing over the body of California Gov. Gavin Newsom “with a wound above his brow and my S&W M&P 9mm still smoking.” Other posts threatened U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Vice President Kamala Harris and New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Additional posts alluded to a previous meeting between Robertson and FBI agents who attempted to speak with him in his front yard in March. Robertson posted messages directed toward FBI agents, who he said he knew were monitoring his social media, and saying he would be armed if they returned.

In the absence of an official statement, neighbors confirmed some details with the Deseret News, including one witness who asked to remain anonymous who saw the FBI carry out the raid. Through videos and photos taken by the witness, the Deseret News was able to confirm they watched the incident unfold.

The witness says they heard the FBI calling to Robertson to come out with his hands up at about 6 to 6:15 a.m. They looked out their window to see “dozens” of agents wearing fatigues and tactical gear.

The neighbor told the Deseret News they watched as agents then unsuccessfully tried to break down Robertson’s door. Another video posted to social media platforms shows agents using some kind of explosive device — it’s unclear whether that was an attempt to gain entry to the home, incapacitate Robertson, or something entirely different.

That’s when agents used a breaching vehicle to go through the window, the neighbor said. Shortly after, they heard about six gunshots.

“(Then) you hear them yell ‘shots fired, shots fired. He has a gun!’ And then a whole bunch more shots,” said the neighbor. “They were all shooting at the same time.”

As they were walking up from the basement, where they had momentarily been hiding with their child, they saw agents carrying Robertson, half-dressed and bloodied, outside his home. The agents placed him on the sidewalk and attempted to render first aid.