EDITORIAL: A tragic end to a bad situation

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It’s not the way you expect a day to begin in our quiet community.

Early Thursday morning, Powell police received a 911 call that someone was firing shots at a local motel. The man later told police he was holding hostages. Law enforcement officers surrounded the motel, and a standoff ensued.

In the end, a Powell policeman fatally shot the 31-year-old after he exchanged fire with officers, according to police reports.

No one wanted this tragic outcome. A man is dead, and we realize he was a son, a father, a friend.

We also recognize the difficult position law enforcement faced Thursday morning. Police officers had to make tough decisions in an intense and dangerous situation.

It’s much too soon to judge what happened without knowing the circumstances that led to the fatal shooting.

Questions still remain. Answers won’t be available for quite some time, pending the ongoing investigation by the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation.

We hope residents wait for the facts from that investigation before passing judgment.

While many details remain unclear, we know this for sure: What unfolded Thursday morning is not only affecting the man’s family and friends, but also the officer, his family and our community as a whole.

Unfortunately, Powell’s neighbors to the west know exactly what it’s like.

In October, a Cody policeman fatally shot an intoxicated 34-year-old man after a domestic dispute escalated and he began firing shots in the direction of officers. Following a DCI review of the case, the Park County attorney found in December that the Cody officer had no other options. The shooting was deemed clearly justified.

Both shootings remind us of the difficult decisions police officers face in dangerous circumstances, and the fact that they risk their own lives in the line of duty. We are thankful that more people weren’t injured or killed in either situation.

Eventually, we will know more about the circumstances that led to Thursday’s shooting. For now, we only know the tragic ending.

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