The Provo Police Department identified Sunday the officer killed in a Saturday shooting in Orem as Joseph Shinners, a three-year veteran of the force.
“As chief of police, I am furious. I’m heartbroken and shocked,” said Provo Police Chief Richard Ferguson, at a press conference Sunday. “To Joe’s family, I want to say that we love you, and we stand with you.”
Orem Police Chief Gary Giles said that the Orem Police Department will handle the investigation of the criminal end of Saturday’s incident. There will also be a parallel investigation from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office’s Officer-Involved Shooting Protocol team.
According to Giles, the incident began at 9:53 p.m. Saturday when police received information that a wanted fugitive who had made threats of violence to police officers in the recent past was located in the parking lot of the Bed Bath and Beyond, 50 W. University Parkway, Orem.
Provo and Orem officers approached the suspect’s vehicle in an attempt to take the man into custody when the suspect shot Shinners. Giles said that Shinners was able to return fire and struck the suspect at least once.
Shinners was taken to Utah Valley Hospital in Provo where he died shortly before midnight, Ferguson said.
The suspect is a 40-year-old male who has been homeless or staying with friends in the Provo and Orem areas recently, according to Giles.
The suspect is currently under guard at a local hospital in stable condition, according to Giles. He anticipated the suspect will face multiple charges, possibly including aggravated murder of a police officer.
The incident remains under active investigation and Chief Giles was unable to immediately provide specific details on whether other officers fired their weapons or if the suspect had active arrest warrants. He said new snow complicated the investigation at the scene Saturday evening.
There was a second occupant in the vehicle, but Giles couldn’t confirm whether she would face any charges.
‘The very best of the Provo Police Department’
Giles made a point of not identifying the suspect Sunday, saying that the day was about Shinners, his family and everyone else involved.
“Officer Shinners represents every one of us — he represents every one of us who enjoys peace, who enjoys freedom,” Giles said. “And today, a little bit of that peace and freedom has eroded away.”
Shinners, 29, leaves behind a wife and a 1-year-old boy, according to Chief Ferguson.
Ferguson said Shinners was “decent in every single way” and was “the very best of the Provo Police Department.” He awarded Shinners a posthumous promotion to master officer, saying the man exemplified service and understood sacrifice.
“He is the officer who you would want to show up at your door in your biggest crucible moment,” Ferguson said.
Shinners was originally from the Boston area, according to Ferguson. His father is a retired firefighter and his brother is a Massachusetts police officer. For Provo Police, Shinners was a patrol officer primarily focused on the Central Business District, and was also a field training officer, a member of the bike patrol and the SWAT team.
Since the shooting, there has been an outpouring of support for Shinners and his family. Officers gathered with family at the hospital. American flags were placed around Provo City Center and flowers were placed atop Shinners’ patrol vehicle on display outside the Police Department. Volunteers tied blue ribbons to trees and poles around the Provo City Center.
There was a procession as Shinners’ body was taken from the hospital to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Taylorsville. There was a second procession Sunday afternoon as a vehicle carrying Shinners drove from Taylorsville to Wheeler Mortuary in Springville.
Services were not immediately known, according to Ferguson. There were no plans for a vigil Sunday evening.
Officials offered their support to Shinners’ family. Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi told them that “Provo stands with you.”
Officials also honored the service and dedication of Shinners and every other police officer who donned the uniform to protect the community.
“To Officer Shinners — With all that we have in our souls, we salute you and thank you,” Kaufusi said.
The mayor also called on the community to have a renewed sense of gratitude and respect for officers and their families.
Shinners is the first Utah County law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty since Utah County sheriff’s Sgt. Cory Wride was killed in Eagle Mountain in January 2014.
After the press conference, Shinners’ portrait was moved to the Provo Police Wall of Honor in the department’s lobby. He joins five other Provo officers who have died in the line of duty. The last Provo officer killed in the line of duty was officer Trent Halladay, who died of case-related cancer in 2006.