Powell, WY

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Earlier story: Man fatally shot by police after armed standoff, gunfire

Powell police stand outside the Park Motel after an incident in which a man was fatally shot. Powell police stand outside the Park Motel after an incident in which a man was fatally shot.



A 31-year-old man was fatally shot by Powell police early Thursday morning at the Park Motel. Police say the man held at least one individual hostage in a room for several hours and fired several rounds into the motel parking lot. The man was pronounced dead at Powell Valley Hospital following the incident, said Park County Coroner Tim Power.

Officials have not yet released the man’s name, but a friend identified him as Nick Ungar.

The Powell Police Department had been called to the motel by a 911 call at 3:12 a.m. Thursday, with a report of the sound of several shots having been fired over the past hour, said Powell Police Chief Roy Eckerdt.

Officers contacted a man — reportedly Ungar — at the East Second Street motel.

“The subject self-reported that he had hostages in with him, that he was armed and some demands were made at that point in time," Eckerdt told reporters this morning.

According to Christopher Swartwood, a close friend of Ungar’s who was at the motel, Ungar was involved in a dispute with his father and wanted him to come to the motel.

“That’s all he kept wanting,” Swartwood said. Eckerdt didn't specify what the suspect demanded.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office and Cody Police Department's tactical team were called for assistance after Powell police responded. Eckerdt said he did not know how many shots were fired during the course of the confrontation, but said that in addition to those reported at 3:12 a.m., officers reported hearing gunfire at 4:33 a.m., 4:43 a.m. and 6:56 a.m.

“Shots were being fired from the building to the outside,” he said.

However, in separate interviews, Swartwood and another man at the Park Motel, co-manager Bill Sales, said they heard no shots between the first two that drew police and the shooting that killed Ungar.

Eckerdt said police confirmed that “there were hostages” with the suspect. Eckerdt said police were told there were between two and four hostages in the room, but early Thursday he wasn’t sure how many were actually found to have been there. Police briefly spoke with one during the standoff, he said.

Swartwood and Sales each said they believed only one person was in the room with Ungar, a woman that he knew.

Eckerdt said the suspect — reportedly Ungar — exchanged gunfire with police around 7:25 a.m., and was shot by a Powell officer. He didn't specify what factors or events played into that decision, citing the ongoing investigation, but said there were concerns, including the safety of all involved.

After being shot, the man was taken to Powell Valley Hospital by ambulance and pronounced dead, Power said. An autopsy will be conducted tomorrow.

Eckerdt said police had received information that the man used a .357 caliber handgun.

Swartwood, who was watching from across the street at that point, said Ungar opened the door and was shot. He disputed the police account that Ungar was firing at officers.

“He didn’t shoot at them,” Swartwood said. “I know that.”

He added that if Ungar had wanted to shoot police, he had a clear shot when they arrived hours earlier. Swartwood said police rejected his offers to try to calm Ungar down and said they should have resolved the situation without violence.

“There was so many other options they could have done,” he said.

No one else was injured in the incident, Eckerdt said, including whoever was in the room with the man and the responding officers. The chief said the man lived occasionally at the Park Motel and at other places in Powell. Swartwood said Ungar was from Chicago and has a young daughter.

Eckerdt indicated that the investigation will include an incident or incidents that happened away from from the motel. He offered few details on any part of the incident, noting that the criminal investigation and investigation into the officer-involved shooting are being handled by the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

“I can’t talk about anything specifically to do with the criminal investigation, because DCI’s doing it,” he said at the outset of the impromptu press conference at the police station.

Some people at the Park Motel and surrounding block were evacuated from the area at different points during the morning. Some at the motel were taken to the neighboring America’s Best Value Inn.

Speaking Thursday afternoon, Sales said it was frustrating to have the motel’s business closed down for an unknown amount of time for the investigation. Sales also said he’s been told the motel will be responsible for paying for the displaced guests as well as cleaning up the damage caused in the incident.

As a part of routine procedure in any officer-involved shooting, the officer who fired the shot will be put on paid leave while the DCI investigation is pending.

The Tribune will update this story as more information becomes available and have a more complete story in Tuesday’s newspaper.

Editor's note: This version corrects the spelling of Nick Ungar's last name.


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  • posted by Slick

    February 25, 2014 7:16 am

    Been 2 years now... Still miss you brotha.. Rest easy

  • posted by Not forgotten

    April 24, 2013 2:15 pm

    Robert Unger, my name is Cassadi and I have some pictures of Nick while he lived here in Nebraska if you would like a copy of them. He was very happy in them, I am sure he would want me to get them to you. You can contact me at alwazyng22@yahoo.com if you want.

  • posted by Slick

    February 09, 2013 10:37 am

    It's been one year..... Still miss you brother. Hope you're well. Ill see the fellas tonight. Well all have a drink for you

  • posted by brandon

    April 03, 2012 5:48 pm

    why is there no recent news on the officer who killed my best friend ??????? From Brandon Schaffner .. I love you nick

  • posted by dion

    April 02, 2012 6:35 am

    R.I.P..Nick..All I can say is I was reading all these posts that people put on this site and can't believe that thay are giving the police thank yous...when first of all if it was a hostage situation were was was the hostage negotiator and if there was, isn't there job is to really find out if there is any hostages and if he was asking for his dad then it would have been progress in that might have calmed him down and the situation..(and thats if this is what happened) cause the Nick I got to know was all about his daughter & gave everything to be with her. I knew Nick and it might have been only for 7 months but we kicked it tough in scottsbluff,ne not one day went by that he did mention his baby girl and how much he loved her so why would he do what thay said he did & what I'm reading on these posts that people are putting is crazy for one he got shot in one temple and out the other so if it was s.w.a.t. or tactical unit or what ever thay call them so called professionals but then thay are supposed to injure so thay can question the suspect.even the motel manager said that thing didnt add up.. so if any one want some good picture of Nick get at me on facebook..Dion Gonzales and I will accepted your friend request..lets get his story out there..
    1 LoVe NiCk aka. Savage will always remember you bro & don't trip things will come out and we will all know really what happened on that early morning..to the person who pulled that trigger and ended my boys life you will answer to the man above just to see my boy Nick looking at you..to see what you really have to say..

  • posted by s.camacho

    February 17, 2012 11:32 am

    damn nick, i wish i could've stopped this b.s..u dint deserve this..i'll c u 1 day ...love for his fam..r.i.p..u were a gud troop..

  • posted by The Savage Legend Lives On

    February 15, 2012 9:38 pm

    Nick will not be forgotten, nor will the ones who did him wrong. Love Ya Brother. You didnt deserve to go out like that! But backgrounds and reputations shouldnt matter, what should matter is the situation at hand and what happened that night! Everyone i know has done things they are not proud of. Hasnt everyone? Does that mean we all deserve a target on our backs from the powell PD???? if thats how it is then so be it, then their actions tword me and any of nicks other friends are considered hostile. How do i know that the next time I get pulled over and go to reach for my I.D. they dont just shoot me and say "woops I thought she had a gun" this whole situation is messed up. and for those of you who have anything Bad to say about it, Keep Nicks name out of your mouth! You didnt know him and you werent there!!!! For those out in Chi-Town I want you to know nick sends his love, he told me that everyday. To All His Friends And Family This Is A Tragidy. But Justice, and Karma will prevail in its own way. 2-9-2012 will never be forgotten by those who cared..... and those that dont give a damn can take a long walk of a short cliff...

  • posted by a friend

    February 15, 2012 11:51 am

    Perhaps if you don't know somebody personally or know about the entire situation, your comments should be kept to yourself, Madouceamie.

  • posted by Salty Dawg

    February 15, 2012 9:00 am

    No man,or woman,deserves to die without a fair trial and representation,something that is obviously missing in Park County anymore.

  • posted by Pissed

    February 14, 2012 8:57 pm

    to all you dumb F***** you should really watch what you say about good people! Truth will come out and justice will be served!!! to all you Powell citizens, hope your watching your backs, and before you turn your backs to the POWELL POLICE, just realize you might be the next one to get a hole blasted through your head by one of these trigger happy dirty A** cops!!!!!!!!. and everyone needs to remember this is not the first huge F*** up that has happened in POWELL!

  • posted by this is out of hand 2

    February 14, 2012 10:52 am

    'this is out of hand' is an idiot

  • posted by Madouceamie

    February 14, 2012 7:33 am

    I did not know Nick personnely. I have no first had knowledge of how the Powell Police Department conducts business. I do know that Nick had a precious baby daughter that he walked out on. He did not attempt to get to know her until she was a year old. To me that contradicts all stories of what a great guy he was.

  • posted by Powell REZ

    February 13, 2012 7:24 pm

    Man...even the Billings Gazette is getting curious on why the Powell police are being coy. Come on Powell...you are already thought of by the rest of the world as being PO DUNK!!! Don't reenforce it by incompetent behavior from TOP to BOTTOM regarding the protection of the town.


  • posted by Paul

    February 13, 2012 3:03 pm

    You know, many years ago when I was in high school, a situation about the same as this went down not too far from here involving someone that I knew and thought of as a friend. He was my best friend's brother's best friend (try saying that ten times!). The situation ended in the same manner, with the loss of a my friends life. For the longest time I was very angry at the officer who took the life of my friend, and I never thought I would ever be able to understand why he did it. Later, when my wife began working as a dispatcher for the department where the officer worked, I got to meet the officer who had killed my friend. You know what, it almost distroyed his life to do what he had to do, and to this day, 10+ years later, it still bothers him that he had to take a life. At that time he had young kids of his own and all he could think about was what it would have felt like if he would have lost one of his own. I know, in fact, that my friend actually wanted them to take his life, (very long story about a very sad life) but I had always believed that they could have handled it different. Now, when I read about Nick, who I know through a friend of my wife's, I think back on how bad it affected the other officer and hope and pray that the Powell officer can regain his daily life sometime soon without being tormented forever by what he had to do. Without being there, there is absolutely no way I, or anyone who wasn't there, can know what actually went on. Yes, in this world there are good cops and there are bad cops, and sometimes it is hard to tell which are which, but sometimes people forget about how they put their own lives on the line by putting that uniform on so they can serve to protect. You have no idea what it is like, and what it was like for my wife, to have to constantly change how she dressed when she was going to work, even though she was just a dispatcher, because of the number of people who are out there who hate the police and anyone who helps them and are even willing to hurt innocent people because of that hate. Judge not, just pray for everyone who was involved and for their families, including the other officer's on the scene, as well as for Nick's family, but also don't forget to pray for the return of a normal life for the officer who ended up firing the shot.

  • posted by Eric Shepsky

    February 13, 2012 1:00 pm

    RIP nick.. Ive known nick since Mccraken, and we were always cool, he should still be with us now, and dont believe for a second that him being murdered was called for or deserving.. Your in a better place now anyhow.. R.I.P my old friend.

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