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 Larry L. Roberts

    February 10, 2012 10:24 am

    There are no winners in these types of cases. The police respond to this type of situation in hopes of solving it without anyone getting hurt. The out come is left to the person causing the situation in the first place. The first priority for the police is the protection of human life and that includes there own life. No one will ever know what was exactly going through this mans mind when he elected to take this violent course of action. No police officer ever wants to take another persons life but they have to be able to protect themselves to ensure they go home at night. A police officer reacts exactly the way he/she is trained and when they have to deploy deadly force they are trained to stop the threat. That is why we pay them. It is time to let the investigation run its course and realize that most of us were not there and we don't have to make the really tough decisions. Believe me, a police officer who has been placed in a deadly force situation has to live with the decision they made for the rest of there lives. Do not judge until you know all the facts.

  • posted by bobcat

    February 10, 2012 10:24 am

    Regardless of what really happened and even IF the police were negligent, they will not get into any trouble. They will lie just as much as the next person to save their butt and job. Unfortunately that's the way it is these days. "Paid administrative leave" what a joke!

  • posted by Salty Dawg

    February 10, 2012 9:54 am

    Pray all you want,it's your choice,in this case praying will do nothing.The cards were dealt and the loser is gone, as Kenny Rogers said in his song "you gotta know when to hold em and when to fold em". The cards are now folded until the next bad decision comes along,move on.

  • posted by Compasionate

    February 10, 2012 9:39 am

    This is a tragedy by every definition. The Powell Police Department can certainly not consider this a success when I life was taken, a father, son, brother and friend was lost. The decision making process needs to be reviewed by the Powell Police Department, especially when it concerns taking a human life.

  • posted by Tara

    February 10, 2012 9:28 am

    My heart goes out to the officer that had to make the decision to fire. They knew what he had to do and what was necessary in order to protect those around. This is going to be a part of his life forever and those that think that this is something that is taken lightly, have no idea what it takes to have to make a decision like that. I fully support the Powell Police Department, they are a group of great people who have a great love for their community and I'm sure that when you are on the wrong side of the law it's easy to be critical and think that you have been treated unfairly, but they are always there when you need them and they deserve our support if not our respect.

  • posted by Jessica

    February 10, 2012 9:21 am

    I have known Nick for almost 29 years and I would never guess that he would do something like this. Something else is going on. Facts are being covered up.
    I will miss him very much. No matter what anyone says, he was a good person with a good heart. Its a shame that things went the way they did. I am not saying anyone involved is right or wrong but now I am mourning the loss of a childhood friend. Keep Nick's family and friends in your prayers. Have a heart. Miss you Nick...RIP

  • posted by wyofamilyguy

    February 10, 2012 9:06 am

    Police are not trained to wound that is hollywood and fantasy. You armchair quarterbacks better get facts right before you start judging that goes for judging both the cops and the deceased suspect.

  • posted by Former Powellie

    February 10, 2012 8:54 am

    You know those cops. Just love to shoot people and make-up stories. Seriously?!?! A very unfortunate event for my home town community. I will pray for the officer who shot the suspect. This is something no police office wants to have happen. And something he will live with forever.

  • posted by citizen

    February 10, 2012 8:06 am

    Well all i can say is the cops were not in the wrong they made a decision and who are we to judge them the officer that shot has to live with this the rest of his life who would ever think in little ol powell wyl that this would happen and not to mention look at the time frame little kids getting ready to go to school they are the ones in need of protection i would expect nothing less being a parent its unfortunate but its done i feel for the little girl left behind nobody should be bashing the guys name but he made some stupid choices and thats that!!!!!!

  • posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    February 10, 2012 8:00 am

    Time to leave this town,things are getting to hairy around here with all the trigger happy law anymore,and Cody is no better.Powell sure is NOT what it once was,and it's getting worse by the day,especially since Steve Oliver was railroaded out by someone we all know.

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