Man Updated Facebook Status During Police Standoff
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah ~ (Salt Lake City Standard-Examiner/AP) ~ A man who was served a warrant holed up in a local motel and updated his Facebook page during a standoff with police.
36-year-old Jason Valdez held a woman hostage in a motel for a tense 16-hour standoff, in which he found the time to update family and friends by way of the social website Facebook, according to authorities. In all, Valdez made six posts and added at least a dozen new friends. His family and friends left about 100 comments; some offered words of support while others pleaded for him to "do the right thing".
Court records indicate that Valdez has a notable criminal record, including convictions for aggravated assault and domestic violence in front of a child. Earlier, in March of this year, prosecutors filed felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges against Valdez, and when he missed his June 1st preliminary hearing a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. On the afternoon of June 17th Ogden Police tried to serve Valdez with the warrant for the missed court appearance and that's when Valdez barricaded inside the Western Colony Inn.
"I'm currently in a standoff ... kinda ugly, but ready for whatever," Valdez wrote in his first post at 11:23pm, "I love u guyz and if I don't make it out of here alive that I'm in a better place and u were all great friends." He posted that he was with a woman named Veronica Jensen, although police described her as a hostage. He posted to friends, when police shut off the power, that his "hostage" was fine and with him willingly, and that police were jeopardizing her life by their actions. At 2:04am Valdez posted two pictures of himself and the woman, adding "got a cute 'hostage' huh" to the photographs.
At 3:48am one of his friends posted that police had a "gun ner in the bushes stay low" to which Valdez responded with, "thank you homie good looking out". His final post was at 7:25am on June 18th when he wrote, "well i was lettin this girl go but these dumb bastards made an attempt to come in after i told them not to, so i popped off a couple more shots and now were startin all over again it seems ..." Ogden Police spokeswoman Lt Danielle Croyle said a SWAT team breached the hotel room 90 minutes later but never fired. Valdez shot himself in the chest when the team entered the room and was listed in critical condition on June 21st; Jensen was released unharmed.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Ogden Police were following Valdez's posts in real-time during the ordeal, though Croyle said officers routinely search the internet and other sources for background information on suspects. Investigators now believe that responses from Valdez's friends may have given him an advantage during the standoff, and are now discussing the possibility that they could be arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for hampering a police investigation. "We're not sure yet how to deal with it," said Croyle, "we're talking about it and trying to figure out how do we address the kind of conflict that it presents." Croyle also added that Valdez could face numerous charges as a result of his actions during the standoff, including firing his gun at police officers.
Photo credit: Anthony Souffle/Salt Lake City Standard-Examiner