OREM (ABC4 News) – Police and Utah County prosecutors revealed new details about the murder of Provo Police Department Master Officer Joseph Shinners when they announced the charges against 40-year-old Matt Frank Hoover on Wednesday.
The charging document lists seven charges, including aggravated murder, and an account of what happened in a shopping center parking lot at 50 West University Parkway.
The statement claims Hoover was sitting in the driver’s seat of a truck with a female passenger when police cars pinned him in. He backed into a police car then accelerated forward hitting the Bed, Bath and Beyond and getting stuck on a curb.
When Officer Shinners entered through the passenger side door Hoover pulled out a brightly colored stolen .380 handgun he called the “purple monster.”
“Hoover produced a weapon, a handgun, fired one shot and Officer Shinners returned one shot,” Orem Police Chief Gary Giles told reporters. “He was wearing a ballistic vest, unfortunately, the shot hit him in an area that was uncovered by that vest.”
Officer Shinners was struck in the left side of the chest. Hoover, who police say intended to commit suicide by cop, was wounded in the abdomen.
“The remaining officers from the Orem Police Department cared for the defendant who would have died on the scene but for the heroic actions and amazing first aid relief given by the Orem Police Department,” Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said. “Once they stopped the defendant’s bleeding, stabilized him, they took him to the local trauma center where ironically he was cared for in the room next to Officer Joe Shinners.”
Officer Shinners left behind his wife and 20-month-old son. Now Hoover could be headed to prison for life – or death row – on murder, assault and drug possession charges.
“Officers had received information from a variety of sources that Hoover had told them he would rather die than go back to prison,” Chief Giles said. “It at least gives me some satisfaction that to now that while he did survive his injuries, he won’t get his first choice, at least yet. He will have to suffer through the prison or the jail that he so desperately did not want to return to.”
The aggravated murder charge carries a potential death sentence but prosecutors haven’t decided yet whether they’ll pursue the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Hoover is also charged with assault against a peace officer, receiving stolen property, possession of a firearm by a restricted person, failure to respond to an officer’s signal and possession of methamphetamine and heroin.
The Utah County Attorney’s Office hosted a press conference with more information.