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February 09, 2012 10:49 am

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

Written by CJ Baker

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.



  • Comment Link February 10, 2012 5:43 pm posted by Compasionate

    What I don’t understand, is if the cop was a good enough shot to hit him cleanly in the head, why didn’t he shoot him non-fatally? If he had hit him in the leg or upper shoulder, it would have demobilized the guy. Has Nick had a bad history with the cops in town, so they thought he was a terrible threat? I haven’t heard about it. Was the gun in his hand when he opened the door, was it by his side or pointed, was he warned or asked to drop the gun? Was he being threatening? I hate to think that the cops just shot him with out immediate provocation, but cops all over America have done much worse, why should Powell, Wyoming be any different.

  • Comment Link February 10, 2012 6:28 pm posted by this is outta hand

    wow, u show ur ignorence by the words you chosse, good job for makin ur self look like an idiot

  • Comment Link February 10, 2012 6:31 pm posted by John Hudson (Hook)

    I've known Nick since High School. We balled @ Shawnee together..we drank..we chilled..we were friends indeed. All of this talk about cops serving n protecting is for the birds..its a bunch of bs..u don't just open fire without a blink when someone opens the door.. wut happen to negotiation??? I'm so sick right now..cops hv a license to kill.. Shoot first, ask question last. Where are all of these hostages PDD?? I hope this Swartwood guy takes down the whole dept!! Makes me wanna load up a couple van loads of my fellow Chicagoans and head out to Hickville. U will be truly missed my man..just try to RIP pimpn..we will get to the bottom of this one.... I promise

  • Comment Link February 10, 2012 6:45 pm posted by Chuck B

    I am glad censorship is alive and well in Bonnerland

  • Comment Link February 10, 2012 6:59 pm posted by jim

    Its like this, A guy comes into my house in the middle of the nite while me my family are sleeping, im gonna shoot and ask questions later cause i have no idea wether they will harm my family or me, that person runs the risk when they thretend others lives! If a grizzlie charges me while im hunting im not gonna shot to wound the bear but shoot to kill and that means a very vital area!

  • Comment Link February 10, 2012 7:50 pm posted by SheepHater

    It is always the fault of law enforcement...? Whatever. If I challenged the Police with a gun I would expect to be shot..no matter how nice a guy I am. A soon as they showed up he should have thrown donw the gun and come out..PERIOD. Just like typical Sheep to whine about about the way Sheepdogs protect them. Good Job Police!

  • Comment Link February 10, 2012 8:46 pm posted by Adam Guinard

    Says the guy who cant use his real name. Police in Powell suck, it's no secret.

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 1:55 am posted by Nicks old friend

    Nick was a great guy. Today is truely a sad day. I truly believe Nick should stil be here with us today and the police screwed up. All you idiots talking crap about a person you didn't even know should be ashamed of yourselves. Police officers are not perfect human beings and from info from all the eye witnesses and people that were there, his death DEFINITLY could have been avoided. All I know is, Nick had a great heart and was always smiling. He will be truely missed and he will be in many people's prayers. Hopefully the truth will come out after the investigation. God bless everyone, as well as the ignorant idiots leaving horrible comments. God bless you Nick, you're in a better place than all of us. You're friend.

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 6:53 am posted by KConn2255

    nick was a great guy and didnt deserve to go out like that. i was there no shots were fired at the police. and there were no hostages she chose to stay with him because he was having a hard time. nick was loyal, loving, and respectful to everyone. he kept telling the police that he wasnt there to hurt anyone and that he just wanted to see his dad. the cops took everything way out of proportion but i must say cody cops handled the situation way better than the powell police. cody's pd was trying to get his best friend on the phone with him to get him to calm down and come out. the powell police refused to let that happen, there are alot of things that happened that night that were not mentioned. the police dont want to feel wrong about there decision. but nick never opened the door to come out. he was sniped from a window in his motel room. he never threatened or came out in a hostile manner. this was cold murder. and now the cops are trying to cover it up. the only time that door was opened was after nick was already shot and it was the girl he was in the room with asking the EMTs for help, to come in and save his life... there was no chance for survival. it was a clear head shot. the cops didnt try any other tactics to get him out and didnt follow through when all nick asked for was to talk to his dad. And the least they could have done was let his best friend talk to him. He felt threatened by the cops Im sure, Who wouldnt? But I know if i were in that situation a familure voice would calm me down more than any nigotiator or counsoler ever could. He just needed his friends there for him while he was going through a rough time. But when the cops showed up there was no more talking, I personally was escorted out at gun point just for being in the hotel after they already knew where he was and what his intentions were. Im a 120lb female and at the time i was in sweat pants and a hoodie... and they saw me as a threat? I think this could have been handled much better and my friend could still be here and alive with us.. this situation is very sad and should not be praised even if you think its right. a man lost his life. how can anyone be proud of that??? needless to say he was a great guy who is being made out to be a villian. he is missed and loved by all who new him. he was a great friend. Rest In Piece Nick We Miss You Brother..
    If any one wants to know funeral plans, i can post it here to this site as soon as his friend gets it arranged.

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 7:45 am posted by KConn2255

    I also must add im not condoning or saying what nick did was right. it could have been handled differently and much better. But he did what he felt was right and just wanted to see his dad, his dad only lived a few blocks from where the shooting occured, why couldnt the police get him? why do we have negotiators if they dont listen to what you say and actually negotiate. But Because i was there i will say the cops are lying and i am not afraid to tell them that. Nick NEVER shot at them the only shots i heard was his first one around 3AM and the second which was the one he was shot for around 6:30AM. It was not directed twords the police. both shots fired were up in the air.. again im not saying it was right by anymeans. but he was not putting anyone directly or intentionally in harms way, nick was a friend of mine. and i was standing in the room directly accross from his, with a few of his other friends, before we were all pulled out at gun point, any of us will vouch for it. I was escorted away and told to stay away until everything was solved and the pd's questions were answered which i did. but seeing my friends blood on the walls and floor. and witnessing where he fell there is no way that he tried to exit that room with gun fire. the spot he fell was at least ten feet to the left of the door. this is very sad and heartbreaking for all of his friends to handle and think about.... and one last question... ive heard a few of you bring up that it was good to shoot first ask later... my question to you is these police officers are considered "professionals" well when i think of being a professional i think of a lot of learning and schooling that has to take place. cops are trained to handle high pressure situations thats there job. i could understand if it were a civilian that didnt know what to do and reacted on instinct. but cops are trained to hold back instinct and think clearly in difficult and intense situations.. If nick were to have come out of that room firing (which he didnt) why wouldnt someone yell to drop the gun, or let the hostage go? no one yelled for anything.... I look down massively on the powell police department because after nick was shot the police were caught laughing about it. and nick hadnt even legally been deceased for ten minutes before 2 other police officers were caught bragging about it and talking poorly about him at the hospital. these are not police there are wanna be billy bad a$$e$ that are trigger happy. they look for an excuse to try to look good. news flash guys we arent in the city, and wyoming, espessially cody and powell pride ourselves for the way we handle situations. but cops in my opinion are gettin dirty and heartless there are only a few good ones left, the "old school" ones who understand that people make mistakes and they arent always out to right a ticket or humiliate people. Sorry for the delay but here is my question. How do you expect me to respect a man/women of the law if they wont respect me or my friends? laughing when someone dies??? that is not a laughing matter no matter the circumstance. it is sad no matter how many lives where lost on either side. Show some respect. you dont know what he was going through, i dont either, but in your head push yourself as far as you can, far past your breaking point... no matter what pushes you that far and makes you think of it. and then ask yourself what WOULDN'T you do?!?!....

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 12:10 pm posted by Leilani Marie

    Nick used to be my stepfather and a good one at that. If any of the negative things people are saying about him are true it's because people didn't know him like we did and he makes mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. He was only human. We were all really close (My mom, him, and I). Even when they divorced, we were really close. He loved us and he would do anything for us in the blink of an eye. He showed a side of himself to us that he showed no one else. RIP Nicky. I love you!

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 12:13 pm posted by thankful

    powell is super ghetto now a days. I think that it was a lose lose situation and I feel very bad for nicks family. I also feel very bad for the police man that fired on nick I cant imagine having to do that, but I am thankful that police are willing to put their lives on the line to watch over us everyday.

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 4:37 pm posted by anonymous

    First of all I keep hearing people say they were listening to their scanners and not hearing about other shots fired, the police not communicating with him and a bunch of other ignorant things. Most smart people realize that the police have secure channels that we cannot hear and other means of communicating. Second until we are the ones facing that door or a person with a gun we have no room to talk. It's easy to sit on the couch or at our computers and talk tough and have hours and hours to make up decisions. The cops had to do it in "Real Time". Third, everybody says "I knew him" "he wasn't a bad guy" That may be we dont know. but what about the columbine guys or the virgina tech shooter or the any person that "snaps" they are somebodys son or good friend. That doesn't mean what they do is justified. We don't know what is going on inside of everybody or what they are dealing with even though they may be our friend. Until we have all the facts don't judge we were not there. With all the comments you would think that half the town was at the motel.
    You may be that person that needs the cops someday and they are going to help you based on the information that they have at the time. Everybody needs to calm down and wait for the full story to come out and not bits and peices that everybody has put together to make up their own story.

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 5:10 pm posted by robert ungar

    from what ive been told by witnesses they murdered my little boy police were at my home at 345 am asking me where he was they new he was a the park hotel the should have brought me there i could have saved his life

  • Comment Link February 11, 2012 8:33 pm posted by FORMER Powell resident

    As a FORMER Powell resident,all I can say,is that I am not suprised.These macho polce bullies thrive on excitement,with their itchy trigger fingers.They love to sit in the church parking lots and fantasize about the next BIG thing.And believe me....these officers NEED to be drug tested.Just saying.

  • Comment Link February 12, 2012 2:51 am posted by breezy

    good going slick i am his cousin in the east and your right lotta people saying stuff but have no idea who he is or wat the hell happened and for all you people that know nick for 29 years and lived in wyoming are full of it cause he hasnt lived there but for around 7

  • Comment Link February 12, 2012 8:57 am posted by Spectator

    I think it is sickening when the men and women who are to stand above all else and protect their community are corrupt. Nick was a good man. I had know him for years. I hope there is a investigation, not a police cover up, into his murder and the guilty parties are brought to justice. Not all men of the law are just. To hide a murder behind a shield of honor is disgraceful. I knew Nick well. He was a good man with honor. Nick had family and friends that were left behind in the wake of their loved one taken too soon. My sympathy to all of you.

  • Comment Link February 13, 2012 1:00 pm posted by Eric Shepsky

    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.

  • Comment Link February 13, 2012 3:03 pm posted by Paul

    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.

  • Comment Link February 13, 2012 7:24 pm posted by Powell REZ

    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.


  • Comment Link February 14, 2012 7:33 am posted by Madouceamie

    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.

  • Comment Link February 14, 2012 10:52 am posted by this is out of hand 2

    'this is out of hand' is an idiot

  • Comment Link February 14, 2012 8:57 pm posted by Pissed

    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!

  • Comment Link February 15, 2012 9:00 am posted by Salty Dawg

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

  • Comment Link February 15, 2012 11:51 am posted by a friend

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

  • Comment Link February 15, 2012 9:38 pm posted by The Savage Legend Lives On

    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...

  • Comment Link February 17, 2012 11:32 am posted by s.camacho

    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..

  • Comment Link April 02, 2012 5:35 am posted by dion

    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..

  • Comment Link April 03, 2012 4:48 pm posted by brandon

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

  • Comment Link February 09, 2013 10:37 am posted by Slick

    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

  • Comment Link April 24, 2013 1:15 pm posted by Not forgotten

    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.

  • Comment Link February 25, 2014 7:16 am posted by Slick

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

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