A Utah man involved in a 16-hour standoff with police Friday night posted status updates about the ordeal on Facebook, sharing photos of himself with the woman police said he had taken hostage. He even got some help from his friends, who could now face charges of obstructing justice, according to the Associated Press.
One Facebook user warned Jason Valdez that a SWAT officer was hiding in the bushes outside the motel room where he was holed up with a hostage.
“Thank you homie,” Valdez replied. “Good looking out.”
Valdez, 36, is in critical condition after shooting himself in the chest as SWAT officers stormed his hotel room, according to the AP.
Valdez was charged with drug possession back in March, and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest when he didn’t show up for court June 1. Police tried to serve him with a felony drug warrant Friday afternoon, and he barricaded himself inside the Western Colony Inn in Ogden, AP said. He said he was with a woman named Veronica, who police described as a hostage.
His first Facebook post, updated at 11:23 p.m. Friday, reads in part: “I’m currently in a standoff … 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.”
In all, he posted six updates, including pictures of himself and Veronica. He received more than 100 comments from family and friends, many of whom pleaded with him to “do the right thing,” AP notes. Others offered words of support, even “liking” his update about shooting at police. Click through to the AP’s account for a full re-telling of the tale.
Now the police are debating whether to charge any of his friends with obstruction of justice for hampering a police investigation. His friends’ responses, including words of support and details about the scene, gave him an advantage, police said.
This could be a new realm for law enforcement and attorneys — how do you file charges for activity that happened in an online setting?
“We’re not sure yet how to deal with it,” said Ogden Lt. Danielle Croyle.