PROVO — A Provo police officer and a gunman were both shot Thursday during an exchange of gunfire in an apartment complex.
Officer John Oseguera was able to walk out of the building on his own and was listed in stable condition at a hospital Thursday evening, according to Provo Police Chief Rich Ferguson.
“I’m angry,” Ferguson said when asked how he felt during a press conference. “I’m proud, and I’m concerned. Those are my emotions right now.”
Oseguera, a two-year veteran of the department, was shot twice and also suffered wounds to his head caused by shrapnel, police said.
“They’re a young family,” the chief said. “His wife is in shock, but she’s handling it well. We have a team that’s with her. ... The officer actually called her on the way to the hospital and told her he loved her.”
The man accused of shooting the officer was also hospitalized Thursday for gunshot wounds. Police did not provide his identity or any update about his condition.
The incident began about 12:30 p.m. when officers received numerous calls of a man with a gun acting “erratically” near 80 South and 900 East in Provo, said Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King. One caller told 911 dispatchers that a window had been shot out.
After officers arrived at the scene and encountered the man, he retreated inside his home, Ferguson said. The man “was in possession of at least two automatic weapons and began shooting at our officers.
“Our officers returned fire and in the middle of the gun battle, officer John Oseguera ... was struck at least twice in his lower extremities.”
At one point the gunman barricaded himself in the building, but officers were eventually able to take him into custody.
The gunshots shocked and frightened neighbors.
“We saw a cop run down the building saying, ‘Shots fired!’” said Madison Foy, who was inside her apartment with her newborn and her mother, Melanie Autery. “So I grabbed my baby and hunkered down.”
Foy, who hid with her2-week-old baby, said minutes felt like hours.
“You see this in the movies,” said Autery, who is in Provo staying with her daughter to help with her new baby. “You don’t expect this to happen in real life.”
Ferguson thanked neighboring police agencies and Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi for their support of officers.
“I’d like to express my absolute appreciation and admiration for every man and woman who puts on the uniform to defend this city every day,” he said. “Thank you.”
Kaufusi said the city is still mourning the loss of officer Joseph Shinners, who was killed in January of 2019 while attempting to arrest a fugitive in Orem.
“So this tragedy hits especially deep,” she said. “My heart goes out to officer John Oseguera and his family, his two small daughters. My thoughts are with the statewide brotherhood and sisterhood of the police force, knowing they are no doubt in low spirits right now.”
Kaufusi praised the way officers quickly contained the violent situation and then went back to work “keeping our city safe in the midst of their own grief.”
“We are well served by our police department,” she said. “I am proud of their actions today and every day.”
The situation is the worst-case scenario for officers.
“This is not something any of us want to happen, but we train for it to happen,” Ferguson said. “Their training kicked in. They performed exceptionally, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The officer-involved shooting will be investigated by the Utah County OICI Protocol Team, headed by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt announced Thursday.
“Our prayers and our thoughts are with the injured officer and with his family. I express my gratitude to law enforcement for the dangers they willingly face to respond to these incidents and support our investigative teams as they work to gather the facts and the evidence,” Leavitt said in a prepared statement.
Contributing: Morgan Wolfe