ROY — Laura Spencer knew that Aaron Michael Griffin had relapsed on drugs and was having thoughts of ending his life.
But it wasn’t until Griffin was killed in a shootout with police over the weekend that she understood what one of his final texts to her meant: “I have no idea why this is taking so long.”
“I feel horrible about how things went down and so glad no one else was hurt and/or killed,” she told the Deseret News. “He just reached a point he had no desire to live.”
Griffin, 21, of Plain City, and Brian Joseph Cregg, 49, of Ogden, were pulled over by Roy police on a traffic violation about 2 a.m. Sunday. After a brief discussion with the officer, Griffin, who was driving, took off.
A short time later, police learned that the vehicle was stopped in a field in Clinton near 2640 North and 1700 West. As officers approached the vehicle, Griffin fired shots at them. Officers returned fire, killing Griffin.
A police K-9 named “Mik” was shot in the face during the exchange of gunfire and underwent surgery that day.
“We are happy to report that Mik underwent surgery this afternoon and is expected to make a full recovery. He will be out of work for at least 6 weeks and be reevaluated at that time. We want to thank everyone for their support and we will keep you updated with Mik’s condition,” Roy police posted on their Facebook page.
Cregg, who has a lengthy criminal history of mostly drug and drug-related crimes, according to court records, was arrested on a warrant for a parole violation, according to police who on Tuesday released the names of the two men involved in the incident.
Police said they do not expect to release any more information until the officer-involved shooting investigation is completed. Information about how many officers fired their weapons, or whether they were all from the Roy Police Department, has not been released.
Spencer had known Griffin for about five years and he lived in her house for about two years until a month ago when she said he had a drug relapse.
Griffin was never a violent person, she said, and was never known to own a gun. But he struggled with drug addiction. And while that doesn't excuse what he did, Spencer wants the public to know that when Griffin was sober, he was a kind, hard-working person.
“He was tormented by his inability to control his addiction and did not want to disappoint his family any further,” she said. “We feel terrible about how his life ended and that officers were put in danger and a K-9 was injured. We support our law enforcement and the difficult decisions they had to make at this time.”
In 2018, Griffin was sentenced to the Utah State Prison on a felony drug conviction. Spencer said when he was released, Griffin started turning his life around to the point he was in school, had his fines paid off, and even obtained a driver’s license for the first time and purchased a car. And he was staying sober.
But Spencer believes that newfound freedom was also Griffin’s downfall. She believes he got “too much freedom.” With a license and a car, he started hanging out with people who were not good influences on him, she said. And soon, he relapsed.
“He had done so well,” Spencer said.
Once he was hooked on drugs again, Griffin “just couldn’t deal with the shame of the mess he got himself into. He couldn’t live with himself, honestly,” she said. “He struggled with the conflict of wanting to be sober and his addiction issues and he (got) to the point where he just didn’t want to live anymore.”
Spencer said Griffin was “tired of messing up” and “tired of disappointing people” and started having suicidal thoughts.
In the text messages that Griffin exchanged with her, he made statements such as, “I’m just done,” “I’m running until I can’t run anymore,” and “I have no idea why this is taking so long.”
Spencer said she didn't understand that last message until after, and has since shared the messages with police. Her last text from Griffin was the day before the shootout.
Spencer believes that Griffin knew police were looking for him and was waiting for law enforcement to find him so he could commit “suicide by cop.”
She said friends tried to get Griffin into rehab. Spencer said she hopes others who know someone struggling with addiction will try and help those people get into treatment. But she acknowledged that if the person fighting addiction doesn’t want to be helped, “there’s not a lot you can do.”
“Drug addiction always ends horribly. In the end, it’s just a horrible, detrimental disease.”