This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
A Stansbury Park man who aimed a handgun at a Tooele County Sheriff's deputy was fatally shot by the officer early Sunday.
The deputy had responded to a 4 a.m. call, expecting to help 28-year-old Nicholas McGehee with a lacerated foot at a home near the intersection of Aberdeen Lane and Merion Drive. A Utah Highway Patrol trooper went with the deputy to assist, said Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park.
But through a window of the home, the officers saw a man holding a shotgun, the sheriff said.
"As they approached the house, [they could see] there was evidently more going on than the medical," Park said.
At some point, McGehee's wife came out of the house. While the trooper helped her to his car for safety, McGehee came out holding a handgun, Park said.
The deputy commanded him two or three times to put the gun down but when McGehee pointed it at the deputy, the officer fired three times, killing him, Park said.
McGehee's father, Russell McGehee, said he understands his son had accidentally injured his foot, and his daughter-in-law called 911 because his son would not go to a doctor. What transpired after that is a mystery to the family.
"I had never seen him pull a gun on anyone. I don't know what the deal was," said Russell McGehee, who lives in Sanford, N.C., where McGehee grew up. "I don't know why he would have done that."
Russell McGehee had received a call several hours earlier, while still in bed, that his only son had died.
"I still don't know how to take it," he said. "I'm sad one minute, I'm mad one minute … I can hardly breathe one minute."
The deputy who shot McGehee was wearing a body camera, but it was not on because he was responding to a medical call that escalated "within seconds," Park said. The sheriff said his officers do not turn on their cameras during medical calls due to health privacy laws.
The shooting ended the life of a man who had been a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army and had plans to become a nurse.
"He loved life. He loved his wife," said Russell McGehee. "… He had a lot of plans. It's so difficult to look at a person who has all these plans [and see that end]."
McGehee had wanted to be a soldier since he was 10 years old, and in 2009, he was deployed on his first of two tours to Iraq.
Though McGehee was in the infantry, his father said that "they actually did some special ops stuff to actually catch the bomb makers [who created improvised explosive devices]."
But his tours took their toll. During his first deployment, for 15 months, McGehee's first wife left him because the stress was too much, Russell McGehee said.
Then, during the last month of his first tour, McGehee's vehicle hit an IED the first of two.
While he was stationed out of in Hawaii, McGehee returned to Iraq and was hit by the second IED in the first month. He was again inside a vehicle, and both times, that's probably what saved his life, his father said.
McGehee lost some of his hearing in the bombings and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he was taking medication, his father said. He was awarded a Purple Heart for the second explosion, his father added.
Capt. Tyler Kotter, of the Utah Department of Public Safety's State Bureau of Investigation, said officers have not determined whether McGehee's PTSD was a factor in the shooting.
Psychiatrist Frank Ochberg, a Michigan State University expert in PTSD, said it should be considered an injury to one's memory, not a mental illness. "Very, very few, very few with PTSD become a danger," Ochberg said.
U.S. Department of Defense press photographs show McGehee receiving his award from Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo in a ceremony in Kirkuk, Iraq. A second photo, which shows McGehee smiling, was taken and tweeted out by Craig Ferguson, the recently departed host of CBS's Late Late Show, who was sitting next to McGehee on a flight to London.
When he returned to the U.S. after that second, 12-month tour, McGehee was stationed in Utah and became a military recruiter.
He also married his second wife, Kat, who Russell McGehee described as "a great girl." Facebook photos of them show a happy couple enjoying the outdoors and dressed up for a night out at Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City. They did not have children.
McGehee had been taking online courses to become a nurse, and had become certified to both perform and teach CPR, his father said. He had not started his clinical work, which he was likely waiting to begin until he knew where he would be stationed in 2015, his father added.
After two and a half years in Utah, McGehee had asked to be stationed closer to his family. He would have heard back about that request in March, his father said.
He did, however, see his relatives recently, when he flew back to Sanford for Thanksgiving weekend. His aunt, Pamela Fundakowski, was grateful for that opportunity in light of Sunday's shooting.
"I guess the Lord knew what was going to happen," she said. "… He came home and spent a lot of time with family."
Russell McGehee said he does not blame the officers in his son's death, but added that "something is wrong with the system," referring to the ongoing national debate surrounding law enforcement shootings.
"They need to assess the situation better," he said.
The State Bureau of Investigation is still piecing together what occurred in the McGehee home prior to the officers' arrival. While the investigation into the shooting continues, the deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave, per protocol.
No one else was in the home, Park said. McGehee has no prior criminal history in Utah, according to a search of court records.
Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle contributed to this report.