Shots Fired From Homestead Of Polygamist Clan
MARION, Utah (AP) _ A barricaded clan of polygamists opened fire at police floodlights four times in 14 hours, as officers surrounded the mountain compound for a fifth day, authorities said today.
No one was injured, and police did not return fire.
″We will not fire into the compound for fear of hurting children,″ FBI agent Dave Kohl said.
In all, 65 rounds, believed to be from rifles, were fired Tuesday and today as police trained floodlights on the compound, where at least 14 people holed up after a Mormon chapel a half-mile away was bombed early Saturday, officials said.
Members of the group were seen running from building to building on the 2 1/2 -acre compound during the night, Kohl said.
Shots were fired about 6 a.m. today and then half an hour later from the homestead, officials said. About 30 rounds of gunfire greeted police as they turned on floodlights late Tuesday, and officers said they crawled 15 to 20 yards through snow to safety.
″We could hear the bullets pass us, I’d say about five feet above my head,″ said Tom Wittman of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office in Salt Lake City.
Shots first were fired Tuesday afternoon as police brought in the lights and low-flying aircraft to step up pressure on the clan, authorities said. No lights were hit.
A plane resumed flying over the area after dawn today.
″The gunfire only indicates to us that their threats are real,″ said Doug Bodrero, deputy state director of public safety.
Teams of officers in vehicles were stationed around the log house on the compound late Tuesday, Bodrero said. ″We not only want to make sure that no one comes out, we want to make sure no one goes in.″
Felony charges in the bombing have been filed against Vickie Singer, 44- year-old widow of polygamist John Singer, who was killed in a confrontation with police nine years ago Monday, and Addam Swapp, 27, who is married to two of Singer’s daughters.
Bodrero had said Swapp also is married to Vickie Singer, but a relative who has acted as a mediator during the siege has denied that.
Vickie Singer said by telephone Saturday that the bombing was ″symbolic of what is coming,″ and vowed there would be other deaths.
A son-in-law of Singer, Roger Bates, who visited the cabin Sunday and Monday nights to mediate, said the clan has vowed to hold out until Singer is ″resurrected.″
The clan leaders have refused since Saturday to talk with authorities. A televised plea was issued to them Tuesday night to communicate with police.
″If there’s one thing we can do to get the message across, it’s that they open the phone lines to us and let us work this out person to person,″ FBI agent Cal Clegg said in the statement authorities believed would be viewed on the homestead’s television.
In the final briefing of the night, Bodrero said the situation appeared to be in a lull.
Before the shots were fired, Swapp briefly re-connected the telephone line he had pulled out Monday, Clegg said. But when police on the other end asked him if he wanted to talk, he said ″No″ and hung up.
Swapp was ″surprised the phone call was answered by our negotiators,″ Clegg said, adding police were encouraged by the call.
Authorities, who for three days had remained well back from the compound, changed their strategy Tuesday afternoon.
A police car was positioned to block the gate, the lights were brought in and an Army helicopter and a light plane flew overhead.
″We’ve got to start letting them know we’re here,″ FBI Agent Lou Bertram said.
Bodrero said police were ″not trying to scare anybody.″
″They are simply tactical moves that we are putting into place so we can better observe the situation and try to move forward with some type of resolution plan.″
On Saturday, Mrs. Singer said there were 14 people in the compound. But authorities said Tuesday they believed Swapp’s brother, Jonathan, 21, also was inside.
Addam Swapp reportedly has said the bombing was in retaliation for Singer’s 1979 death, which the clan blames on the Mormon Church. Singer had defied authorities by keeping his children out of schools, saying they would expose the children to sex, drugs and teaching of racial equality.
After refusing to appear in court or submit to arrest, Singer was shot as he aimed a gun at officers, authorities said.
Singer was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for espousing polygamy, which the church abandoned in 1890.
Bates said the report that Swapp and Vickie Singer were married was wrong.
″She’s not married to Addam. She’s expecting her husband (John Singer) to come home. ...
″They really believe that, just as the Bible says. John is going to be resurrected from the dead and come back to the Singer farm and set this whole situation straight,″ he said.
″This will precede the second coming of Jesus Christ.″