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Facebook kept a gunman connected during a 16-hour siege. / Image: codemastersnake/Flickr/CC BY

An armed man engaged in a 16-hour standoff with police last Friday at a motel in Ogden, Utah. Jason Valdez, 36, allegedly had a female hostage with him. He used his smartphone to keep friends and family updated during the event via updates to his Facebook status.

The standoff begins

Police were trying to serve Valdez with a felony drug warrant at the Western Colony Inn in Ogden when he barricaded himself and his female companion in by blocking the door and windows with furniture. Valdez has a long criminal record that includes convictions for aggravated assault and domestic violence.

Facebook status updates

During the stand-off, Valdez posted six status updates to his Facebook account and answered numerous posts by family and friends. He also added 15 new friends.

“He had a smartphone with him and he was making updates,” said Ogden Police Lt. Danielle Croyle. “The officers on the scene were aware of it and they changed tactics accordingly.”

His first post, at 11:23 p.m., read: “I’m currently in a stand off wit these shady [expletives] from old, kinda ugly but ready for whatever. 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….”

Facebook friends offer assistance

At least one post offered Valdez help. It read, “Gun ner in the bushes stay low.” Valdez replied with thanks.

Croyle said, “The safety of the community … is compromised when the location of officers is revealed.” Of the impact of Facebook on the incident, she said, “Facebook can be a help, but it can also be a hindrance.”

Woman may not have been a hostage

The woman with Valdez, identified only as Veronica, was described by police as a hostage. In his Facebook posts, however, Valdez indicated that she was there of her own free will. At one point he uploaded pictures of himself and the woman with the caption, “Got a cute ‘HOSTAGE’, huh?”

Police offers ignored

There were attempts to negotiate with Valdez, offering him several deadlines, which he ignored. “They shut down all power and our phones are dying,” he posted. “But I’m keep letting u all know I’m okay til these foolz make some dumb [expletive] move! Told em ill come out WHEN IM READY!!!!”

Valdez issued his final post at 7:25 a.m. “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.”

Siege comes to an end

An hour after Valdez’s final post, police broke through a wall, and Valdez shot himself in the chest before they could get to him. No shots were fired by police, and the woman was unharmed. Valdez remains in an area hospital recovering from his wound.

No charges have yet been filed, but Croyle said they could include kidnapping and attempted murder. She further indicated that the Facebook friends who offered assistant may also face charges.

Sources

ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/utah-gunman-updates-Facebook-status-standoff-salt-lake/story?id=13903161
NY Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/06/22/2011-06-22_utah_gunman_jason_valdez_updates_Facebook_status_during_16hour_hostage_standoff_.html
CNN: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/22/police-say-man-updated-his-Facebook-status-during-16-hour-swat-standoff/

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